How Dental Practices are Responding to the Coronavirus Around the World
As of today, almost every country in the world has been affected by the new coronavirus, which has shaken a lot of medical and dental practices. Each country is fighting the battle in their own way, mostly with the information provided by the Chinese example.
Dental office owners are facing a challenge they are not prepared for. No dental management or dental school could have imagined a situation like this, with a prolonged period of interruption to their practices.
Dentistry in the global context
The spread of (COVID-19) represents a significant challenge for dentists and dental schools in all countries that are affected. The arrival of coronavirus to Europe, an epicenter of the new virus, was not unexpected once it had spread beyond Wuhan, China. The kind of reaction to this disease around the world has varied according to different healthcare systems and economies.
After an initial delay, the government of China managed to slow down the spread of the virus. Measures included forced quarantines and lockdowns. China also recommended that all healthcare workers should use personal protective equipment (PPE), similar to the equipment reserved for extremely infectious pathogens like cholera and plague.
Routine dental care was stopped in January 2020, but three months later, it started getting back to normal. Emergency dental procedures were done with strict personal protection and measures for reducing the production of aerosols and droplets, similar to those that had been used during the SARS outbreak.
Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, which are close to China, all shut down routine dental procedures similar to those of China.
The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK initially found that dentists and their staff should continue providing routine care for asymptomatic patients in order to discourage symptomatic patients from coming in. Meanwhile, many dentists were not comfortable with this advice and decided to reduce routine procedures for fear of spreading the coronavirus among their patients.
Of course, dentists were also concerned about their personal finances. However, the advice to continue with procedures did not seem sensible, considering the social distancing measures. As the situation in the UK and other European countries rapidly got out of control, they recognized that they could only delay the spread of the virus.
The UK has a free national healthcare system that applies to medical care. However, it does not include dental procedures, so dentists looked to the NHS for guidance. They also sought instruction from different regions of the UK, as dental care is treated differently. In doing so, they found some discrepancies.
Data has to be quickly analyzed to understand the new virus and develop policy, and this policy will have to change as the situation develops. Every country in the world has been rapidly developing policy to manage the Coronavirus epidemic, according to guidance from the WHO, but each of them is interpreting it in different ways.