My views as a dentist
Everything is a double edge sword. While the pandemic has sowed a lot of confusion in everyday living, incurs inconveniences, and undermines businesses, it has also led to many unprecedented changes in products, services, and ideas.
Human beings are the most intelligent and adaptive of all creatures. We should be proud of this fact and not despair as we become overwhelmed by negative news all too often. Staying positive and in the know is the essence of a bright future that continues to beckon us.
Let’s look at what changes have blossomed and improved our lives so far. The list is not exhaustive.
1 Digitisation – the pandemic has given many people a beneficial jolt by disrupting old-world practices.
For instance, because of Covid-19, we are able to make things more contactless and convenient. You need not bring documents for your clients to sign. You can hold meetings online, do your presentations and get your clients to electronically sign the deal. People, otherwise resistant to change are coerced to adopt technology that is moving forward in any case.
You do not need to be present when doing transactions at the bank when some clicks with safe multi-level authentication would help. You can arrange to have food, goods, and services brought to your doorstep. This proves safe and useful in such times and those companies who quickly went digital benefit from being first movers in this respect.
In my practice, going digital has helped immensely. For example, it has cut down my patients’ waiting time by sending the registration forms to them by email where they can fill in their details and pre-sign before visiting the clinic.
No more storage of paper registrations. Data are now recorded digitally cutting out the need for physical handling and storage of treatment cards.
2. Innovations and creativity – The pandemic resulted in the birth of leaders with vision, decision-making ability, and leadership because of the challenge to cope with the changes.
In the dental practice, many things have gone contactless like using the digital scanner to take a digital impression of the teeth and gums. No more use of the conventional gluey stuff that dentists put in patients’ mouths and they had to cast them and arrange for delivery to the laboratory. By using a digital scanner, the data is immediately despatched to the lab where the models are printed out using a digital printer, reducing mess and increasing speed and productivity.
Dental digital X-rays allow instant images to be seen on the monitor with a dosage that may be less than 1 second. Digital scans and 3 D scans allow an instant clear picture of a patient’s bone and teeth condition as well as vital structures such as the proximity of the sinus and the dental nerve. The images are stored for posterity without risks of them turning fuzzy compared with conventional films.
In healthcare, telemedicine where patients can seek medical care remotely will soon become a common tool. Lately, some doctors are already using the internet to speak to patients and reviewing their general conditions through zoom. This cuts the necessity for unnecessary travel in these Covid times and keeps the hospital available for more urgent cases.
3 Improvement in hygiene practices and lifestyle
The pandemic is a wake-up call to people who have neglected their health. Covid-19 has a predilection for people with an immune-compromised system like diabetes and other chronic illnesses and if you are not aware, poor oral health as well.
The latter is due to the fact that the mouth, besides the nose is a portal of entry to bacteria and viruses hence the use of masks.
I have noted more people exercising and taking care of their health and hygiene practices.
What is not lacking is the defeatist attitude of some people who continues to be spooked by the pandemic into a state of paralysis. And whining to boot.
I worry about their mental health. No amount of ranting and raving against the government or neighbors would help. Everyone only needs to do what is best and let providence do the rest.
As a dentist, we have observed more awareness of dental health care which is an important aspect as digestion begins in the mouth. Dental diseases are usually asymptomatic such as chronic gum disease but with hygiene being strongly emphasized these days because of the pandemic, we would see patients with better oral health which contributes to general well-being.
4 Positive educational gains virtually.
Innumerable, informative, and important talks and seminars of all industries become accessible online. They have been brought to our attention and it is up to us to make time to participate in continuous learning.
As a dentist, there is a sudden uptick in the number of dental educational webinars online that impart a remarkable amount of knowledge by renowned surgeons and practitioners all over the world. In the past, one would have to take a flight, book a hotel, and pay an exorbitant fee to attend these seminars, world exhibitions, and workshops.
Now, it is accessible through the meeting number and assigned password online at the time and date stated. The good news is that many of these courses and talks are free! It has really provided important insights into how dentistry is being practiced at a high standard all over the world. Speakers generously share their knowledge with some conducting live surgeries as well.
5 Slowing down the pace of life
With mandatory safe distancing and the wearing of masks, people have become more well behaved, so to speak. No more pushing and shoving at bus stops and train stations as people queue up systematically and patiently. They cough with restraint fearing angry stares from fellow commuters. Generally, mobile phones have become silent during travel as talking is discouraged.
At the dental clinic, appointments are spaced out so that the waiting room does not get crowded and patients feel comfortable. More time is allocated to each patient as the need for proper safe entry, hand sanitizing, digital record taking, and preparation of surgery rooms takes time.
Procedures become less hurried. Practitioners, assistants, and patients benefit from the slowdown of this ‘daily chase’ that has been unknowingly plaquing people in this hurry, hurry world. There is a perceptible sense of peace and happiness these days. Things are going well at the dental clinic. Life was not meant to be a numbers game.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has hurt many industries but there are options to explore to beat the change or at least adapt to it. Given time, many will emerge victoriously or resume with some amazing ideas. Human beings, from time immemorial, have always overcome adversities.
Now is a difficult time but we must agree that “Difficulty is the mother of invention.” and we will prevail.