The Probe - Proudly serving the dental profession for over 60 years

Coronavirus – it’s all getting a bit real


  Posted by: The Probe      3rd April 2020

I must admit I have been one of those people who have thought that everything was being blown out of proportion. I have family members with chronic health conditions who are very worried about Covid-19 and are genuinely scared for their life. I’ve spent my time trying to reassure them and told them it really isn’t anything to worry about as the chances of getting it are so slim. However, with numbers of those infected increasing quickly within the UK I must admit, I am becoming increasingly concerned, particularly working in the profession I do.

The impact of Covid-19 on dentistry I don’t feel has been addressed enough by the government. Last week, coronavirus came closer to home and patients begun cancelling appointments and openly admitting that this was due to their fears of the coronavirus. With the end of the financial year looming and many people still racing to reach their UDA targets, coronavirus could not have come at a worse time for dentists. It is also impacting our practice in other ways – the mask shortage is concerning as masks are an essential aspect of our personal protective equipment, not just protecting us, but our patients too. If we are to run out, there is not really any information circulating on what to do. Patients are consistently stealing hand soap/sanitizer from our patient toilet –what would we do if we ran out of these things?

Then there is the health of both us and our patients. Put frankly, collectively we sit in a ‘spit storm’ daily with the amount of aerosol we produce from our hand pieces and scalers. It doesn’t matter how good our cross infection is throughout the appointment, that aerosol will still be in the air and in our hair and on our uniform. I can’t quite believe that this issue hasn’t been addressed. Although guidance has been published around what to do if people present with symptoms or have confirmed coronavirus, no guidance has been published regarding these other fundamental issues that we are presented with. Perhaps the outbreak isn’t deemed severe enough yet to start taking further measures, however with many people being confirmed positive without even presenting with symptoms, it may be
that there is a lot more Covid-19 in the population than we think.

Of course, as health professionals we know what we sign up for and that we will come into close contact with infectious diseases throughout our career. However, I feel that if things become much worse, precautions need to be taken to protect our patients. Precautions the relevant bodies may consider could be that it would be sensible to avoid aerosol producing procedures and limit treatments to routine exams and emergency appointments to ensure patients are still receiving the care they absolutely need. Then there is the issue of our colleagues and patients in the higher risk categories. Perhaps they should not be in practice if the outbreak
gets worse.

Of course, this is a challenging and unprecedented situation for everybody involved and the ‘right’ thing to do is very unclear. I just hope that further guidance is soon published from all relevant authorities addressing some of the issues I have written about.

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