A lot of industries have fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of work has been taken home, and other industries have learned to adjust. In the health care system, there were many concessions they needed to make, including the dental industry.
If you need to go to the dentist for a check-up, you should check with your dentist first. You don’t know whether your veneer check-up will go unhampered or not. Many dental practices remain closed, except for cases when they should open up. After some reopened, there were still noticeable changes; to be fair, however, there were massive changes in the health care industry, especially when doing face-to-face checkups.
Here are the significant effects that these changes had on the industry. It might not look like much, but these have far-reaching consequences that may even be in place even beyond the pandemic.
A Significant Change in Use
A period covered from March to April 2020 saw that people didn’t see the need to go to the dentist during that period. 75% decline rate was measured in March, while in April, it fell further by 79%. Those months were when lockdowns were being announced, and COVID-19 was wreaking havoc.
A few more months later, lockdowns and shelter-in-place protocols were implemented. Many industries were encouraged to close down, including dental practices, because of how close they needed to be to their clients when doing dental procedures.
Compared to May 2019, many states saw a decline of 27% in May 2020. May and June saw a usage rate that rose bit by bit because the same states lifted their bans, but that rate only increased by 1% in June.
Each State’s Dental Use Declined Under the Pandemic
All states that experienced lockdowns saw the people’s dental usage go down during that period in 2020. Compared to March and April 2019, 2020 saw decreases in Northeast and Midwestern states. The smallest reductions were experienced in the West during March and in the South and West in April.
The states that displayed the most significant decrease in usage were Vermont with 82.5%, Iowa with 81.2%, Wisconsin with 81%, Minnesota with 80%, and Maine with 80%. Even with the importance of dental services, staying safe from COVID-19 remained a huge priority.
Since then, many improvements have been made to help people get to their appointments and keep it, too.
Consider Elective Procedures and Other Circumstances
Dentists should consider making treatments only if the risk to the patient and the possibility of transmission have been overruled. PPEs and other equipment—both for the safety of the patient and of the dentist—should be worn at all times. If this is limited, then the appointment should only be made if it is necessary.
There is guidance found in a rule book supplied by the CDC for handling medical appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is for dental clinics that want to resume operations even while the risk of COVID-19 transmission remains high. Dentists and patients can help each other by monitoring transmission trends wherever they are located.
Consider Options, such as Teledentistry
Telehealth consultations are becoming a trend during the COVID-19 lockdowns. It’s a solution to the need of people for medical consultations and diagnosis, even if no face-to-face contacts are being done. This should be the norm for patients who need dental procedures and are currently experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
It should also be a helpful procedure if the clinic is screening patients before they arrive. There should be a limit to in-house patients and walk-in clients if the clinic can open. This is to minimize the risk of further transmission.
Screening for Walk-in Patients
For walk-in patients, the procedure should be the same. Screening should be done with the screener and the patient staying a safe distance from each other. The clinic should also post warning signs about keeping vigilance and correct distance from each other through signs.
The clinic should pull all the stops in making sure their patients remain safe during the visit. This is through PPEs, barriers, reminders about hand and respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, and other safety reminders. It’s these minor additions that go a long way toward making sure all people inside the clinic remain safe.
Many things need to be done to make sure everyone is safe during the pandemic. Patients should consider only going to the dentist for emergency procedures, while dentists need to ensure that they’re providing only the best in COVID-19 preventive measures. This way, dental services can still be provided without the risk of getting the virus amid these trying times.