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When can I reopen my dental practice safely?

The setback faced by dental community in Pakistan, resonates with dentists all over the world.

By Dr Muattar Hanif

While many Pakistani dentists opted to close their practices due to COVID-19 situation, the rest decided to cater only emergency cases. The guidelines provided by ADA and BDA though has been beneficial in this regard, but the question about safety and protocol still remains.

According to updated ADA interim guidelines on infection control, dentists can deal emergency and urgent care. The thorough work flow has promised to make the dental practice a safe haven for dentists, auxiliaries and of course patients. But the situation and possibility of viral contamination can be a tough question to answer.

Prof Dr Ayyaz Ali Khan BDS, MS.c (Dentistry) and Ph.D (Dentistry) summed up this chaotic situation perfectly by saying, “It’s true that dentists are scared to open up their clinical practices…maybe for the safety of their patients or maybe for themselves.” He further added, “The times are hard, no doubt; but times like these have come in past too. It is how we face them and overcome such obstacles that actually matter. Hiding from the possible danger can never be the option.”

Majority of the dentists, have voluntarily decided to cater emergency, urgent cases. The protocol usually being followed is to make sure that only those cases should be called for clinic which cannot be helped via tele-dentistry. But with recent surge of Covid-19, it is better to keep tab on the data and ‘hot areas’ for coronavirus in your city. It is better to understand the stats and then decide whether to open your clinic or not. This can be a great support to ensure the safety of patients, the dental team, and dentists.

The stats are available both on provincial level and government level sites. A big shout out to local media, working endlessly to combine authentic stats in this regard for general people to understand the potential risky areas. As a dental health professional, understand the dynamics of COVID-19 and how it effects. The health experts are claiming that our peak is supposed to be in end of June, hence we can use this time available wisely to review infection control policies followed in clinical practices and try our best to adopt them accordingly.

Is it anytime soon will we be able to open our practices for non-urgent care? The answer to this is no. As health professionals we are still learning protocol and understanding more about coronavirus. If a vaccine or treatment is proved to be effective, then what comes after this will change.

It is also pertinent to mention here that if dental health professionals do not understand the complications and repercussions of Coronavirus, then we might face the same consequences that many other countries have faced. It is high time that dentists understand the tenacity of the situation and act smartly.

Dr Muattar Hanif is Assistant Editor at Dental News Pakistan and can be reached at newsdesk@medicalnewsgroup.com.pk

April 30, 2020

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