The present pandemic of COVID-19 is a wakeup call for the dental community with regards to infection control protocols in dental offices. This is due to the fact that aerosols generated during certain dental procedure may pose serious threat and can be source of transmission of the disease. Therefore, strict cross infection control protocols are imperative.
By Dr Sumaiya Hasan
The question whether these protocols are religiously followed in dental clinics and OPDs throughout Pakistan is debatable and is another chapter of the pandemic influenced by multiple factors, two of the prime ones are finance and manpower of a dental clinic or OPD. Nevertheless, the list of influencing elements is a lengthy one.
Change for the betterment
The COVID-19 has acted as an alarm for the teams working in dental OPDs and offices. Cross infection control protocols are now being observed better than before. Dentists are now moving ahead of regular use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfection protocols. Aerosol suction equipment is now being talked about for its regular use in dental clinics. The PPEs being used in dental clinics have also been switched to the heavier or the more effective ones. One such example is the use of the N95 respirators or its equivalents. In short, complete personal protective equipment including gowns, head caps, face shields, respirators and surgical gloves are now not just part of text books and articles. They are being used regularly and fully in majority of the clinics.
Adopting new protocols: ‘Better late than never’
Aerosol is the known culprit of a number of diseases. Its quite alarming and unfortunate that the measures which the dental community should have taken regularly for prevention of cross infection are now being applied after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Undoubtedly aerosol control and generally, infection control is pivotal for safe dental practice now and after COVID-19. Its influence on dental practices in terms of resources is yet to be calculated and especially in developing countries like Pakistan where the protocols in many clinics and OPDs have not been followed appropriately till now. This is one of the reasons why we say that “Dentistry will never be the same after COVID-19 pandemic”.
-The author is a contributing writer for Dental News Pakistan and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.