Challenges are opportunities in disguise. Challenges give us motivation and push us to reach higher places. The history of mankind is filled with instances of such challenges that attribute to our advancements. Though enough setbacks have been faced by humans, still we have recovered from that and move towards future.
By Dr Aqib Mudassar
If we reflect back now, I think we have achieved a lot since then. The solutions to all those ‘challenges’ have been found sooner or later. But no matter how many times the human race is tested by catastrophes, they slowly do return back to their normal routines. Whether it was cholera, malaria, Black Death, AIDS or Spanish flu, they all have destroyed the human life and tested it to extreme, but humans have always come out victorious. The reason can of course be linked with intelligence and science, but there’s one more factor to it, Hope.
With all this in backdrop, we have dental community that is equally taken back by the pandemic as any other domain of life. It is true that just like previously done, humans will find their way out of such situation and dentists too will come out in light. The dental offices will get busy again. People will be catered again with their dental problems. But will returning back really be that easy? Will things will get normal like the way they were once?
To answer these questions, we have three types of consequences. Firstly, there will be those who find new solutions to upcoming challenges and will pave open ways for others to follow. Secondly, we have those who will step up their games and find solutions out of the box. They will follow the first group, but make sure that they do it in their own way. Thirdly, we have those who will never adapt to the fast pacing dynamics around them. They cannot interpret why the change is required at first place. They are way too focused on their own pity issues that looking up to the bigger picture is out of context for them. Hence, in coming times, only those will succeed in the race of challenges, who have adapt and re-act accordingly. Those who step up and have invested in correct things. Those who have created new opportunities during the time of crisis and beyond. As I have always said, things happen in life, what determines the outcomes is how we deal with the situation.
Darker times, brighter opportunities
The positive thing out of this COVID-19 crisis is the time that we have at hand. We all are so much occupied in our daily lives that we have lost touch to those who mean the most to us. Even the little things that we used to enjoy, somewhere in these fast modern lifestyle, we have all lost it. I am sure we all have a long list of the things we always thought of thinking about but we never really got time to get them done.
Wakeup call: Arise from the slumber
Also this crisis is a wake-up call for all of us. It is a great opportunity to identify things that we took for granted. We need to understand the kind of impact we are making in the world, and also in our community. Dentists for example, can use such times to introspect themselves and understand both their strengths and weaknesses.
This understanding of one’s own flaws can generate the scope of positivity and togetherness among dental fraternity. I urged that we all utilize this chance and understand how to promote and recognize the efforts made by others.
Putting Cross infection protocols into spotlight
We must acknowledge as dental professionals that post COVID-19, patients will be lot more educated about protocols and also more demanding and those who can’t cater to that will pay heavily. Unfortunately we don’t have universal protocols for cross infection in dental places. Most dentists think they do but in reality we don’t even have any system or structure for training or checks. Many of the dentists are not formally trained. As matter of fact our dental school are the places with highest contamination rates and those habits stay with us all our lives. To make things worst our auxiliaries are not trained at quality level.
With existing lack of health hygiene protocols, new challenges are added. Hence this is really the time to invest in implementation of universal protocols within in our practices. We must get ourselves trained and inculcate the same in the dental staff.
COVID-19: Consequences and Prognosis
It is true that Pakistan lack systems that many first world countries enjoy. Developed countries rely heavily on predictability and long term prognosis. These are also the factors forming the backbone of dentistry in western world. Marginal integrity in restorative work and hygiene protocols are key to our survival of dentistry in long run. It is due to these characteristics that public have complete faith on their dental health care providers. They know they will have the best care possible and also if something goes wrong they will be taken care off.
Unfortunately, our system is far behind western world when it comes to clinical trainings. Instead of feeling offended we must invest in next few months to learn proper restorative techniques. I see lot of efforts being put into learning implants but we can bring in much more revenue from restorative and preventive dentistry. Once we have established predictability and standard of care we will be able to do lot more dental work as our customers will have faith in their treatments. If we can raise our standards and produce good quality work we can definitely increase our work flow and demand.
Dentistry and Systemic connections
We all understand that oral infection contributes to chronic inflammatory systemic diseases like heart attack, stokes, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, arthritis, kidney issues, Alzheimer’s and so many others. Once we believe in complete health dentistry and practice it, we will have more people seeking dental treatments. It is proven that corona has affected those people who have compromised immune system. Oral infections causes inflammatory burden and lowers our immune response to other organs and increases risk for systemic disease and hampers our immune response to diseases like corona and other diseases. Keeping your dental health safe could be a way to your overall health forward.
Patient Management: First Priority
A coordinated team effort is our key to success going into future. Practice management can increase productivity and improve our treatment acceptance rate thus make dentistry more profitability. It also allows us to focus on bigger things and reduces stress and eliminates loses.
In USA pain management brings in almost 7% of the total revenue as majority of the revenue comes from preventive restorative and elective dentistry. So it will take longer time for them to go back to their numbers. Good thing here in Pakistan is that most of us already just do pain management. Thus increasing patient pool can be focused once we have universal cross infection controls, a standard of care established better teams and awareness about oral systemic connection and improved treatment acceptance rates. With practice management we should be able to actually turn things around and help grow dentistry.
Those who will still not change the way they process things and want to look for short cuts and quick fixes in their techniques. Dental procedures and management part of running a dental office, will either be eliminated or at least pay heavily.
Let’s all work together towards raising bar of dentistry because our future depends on it. Those who would remain in denials and refuse to change will not only hurt themselves but entire industry. It is time to add value and go back to public to reassure them as they need that assurance from us.
Dr Aqib Mudassar is Chief Executive Officer-CEO of Next Level Dentistry and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org