Focus on the Positive
When reading articles about dentistry in the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, it can be difficult to remain positive with all of the "doom and gloom." Fears surrounding shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), questions about the dangers of aerosol-generating procedures, uncertainty regarding the lack of clear-cut guidelines, and even some health organizations recommending that individuals avoid having their teeth cleaned entirely have cast a pall over the profession that is oftentimes overly negative and can affect the morale in your practice. And with some dentists utilizing PPE, following transmission precautions, and decontaminating surfaces while others going to greater lengths, installing HVAC filters and running chemical foggers, many practice owners are left questioning, "Am I doing the right things or not?"
When a patient I had recently worked on called and said that he learned that he had been previously exposed, I paid for him to take a rapid test, and it turned out negative. In another incident, several of my staff members learned that they had been exposed after a patient called and stated that he had tested positive. I paid for rapid testing for them, and again, no transmission had occurred. Yes, having patients wait in the parking lot, taking their temperatures, asking health questions, and meeting requirements for additional PPE are increasing treatment times and sometimes making it very uncomfortable to work, but the reality is that, as of this writing, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that no incidents of COVID-19 transmission have been traced to dental offices. So, by and large, we ARE doing the right things, and both practices and their patients are going to be safe. Certainly, dentistry hasn't returned to normal. However, it is taking the appropriate actions to protect patients, staff, and the profession as a whole. So, take heart and pursue your practice with positivity-the future is bright!
Robert C. Margeas, DDS
Editor-in-Chief, Inside Dentistry
Private Practice, Des Moines, Iowa
Department of Operative Dentistry
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa