In March 2020, the world witnessed something like never before! The outbreak of the pandemic shut down the entire world. Dental practices were totally closed during the peak of the pandemic and later on also. The dental practice involves close proximity to the treating patients which puts the Dentist in high-risk categories. Even though this fact was prevalent even before the Covid-19 outbreak but it was highlighted significantly during and after the pandemic hit. And it surely changed the face of dental practices worldwide.
Dental practice in Covid-19 scenario!
The pandemic created huge chaos and upheaval in dental practices globally. There was a paradigm shift in the way dentistry was practiced during the pandemic. The sudden shutdown, reopening, partial lockdowns, insane infection control protocols, use and overuse of personal protective equipment, practice slowdown, anxiety amongst the patients, financial demoralization, risk of infection transmission was like a never before experience for the dental fraternity across the globe. The Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the personal and professional lives of dentists.
This transition period was a great learning experience for the Dentists since it changed the face of the dental industry. The ‘new normal’ has paved a ripe for change in dentistry. Dental practices were accustomed to a new level of practice protocol which had medico-legal binding too! Thus, with a few setbacks, this pandemic has also been a pleasant blessing in disguise the way dentistry has changed for the better!
Teledentistry making it’s way
The year 2020-2021 witnessed teledentistry as a boon for dental professionals. The workflow was maintained due to the virtual consultations. Patient care was immensely benefited because of teledentistry amidst the uncertain times. Teledentistry is an emerging branch of dentistry that combines technology and modern communication systems to deliver effective dental care crossing geographical barriers. Teledentistry not only has benefitted distant communities living in rural areas but even the urban population due to time constraints have reaped the benefits of virtual consultations with dental specialists. 2022 and the near future too will continue with virtual consultations and audio-video conferences as it has helped access to dental care and reduction in treatment costs tremendously. Telehealth is here to stay and will continue to trend even in 2022!
Working on patient-focused ecperience in 2022!
The pandemic has made everyone sit at home and do all the chores from home which includes work, school, and even health appointments. The otherwise busy dental operatories were empty due to the pandemic shutdown. The Covid-19 outbreak has put dental treatments in high- risk category which only increased the anxiety of otherwise anxious patients.
Thus, in the post-Covid era, the focus should be on delivering effective and personalized dental care to patients. The Dentists should attempt to make the patient get rid of anxiety related to dentistry or covid-19 transmission. The focus has to be on involving the patient in his or her treatment planning and execution of better treatment to make the entire experience patient-centric.
Spearheading Artificial Intelligence (AI) with dentistry!
The advent of artificial intelligence has revolutionized the healthcare industry. AI in itself encompasses a broad spectrum of recent technology and has influenced dentistry due to its accurate diagnosis and ultra-superior patient care. Machine learning (ML) which is a sub-field of AI, involves the collection of data to which certain algorithms are applied to perform tasks through learning patterns. In dental practice, the applications of AI are progressing in disease diagnosis, bio-medical identification, data computation and analysis, image analysis, patient management etc. AI already has its applications in dental diagnosis and treatment planning, orthodontics, detection of head and neck cancers, radiology etc. The coming year will definitely broaden the horizons of AI and ML in dentistry with a more standard protocol. Artificial intelligence is destined to change the face of dentistry in the year 2022.
Rejuvenating 2022 with community dental health programs!
Oral health campaigns and education programs are like the backbone of community dental health. Public health dentistry is as much a necessity as the recent innovations in the dental profession. Community dental health activities expose the population from lower socio-economic groups to oral health education and aims at creating awareness at the community level. The recent pandemic has put a halt at mass gatherings which was a huge setback to community dental health programs. But as the pandemic is on the verge of decline most Dentists and community health workers are hopeful to kickstart the new year with a lot of oral health activities at ground level.
Booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine for healthcare professionals!
Even though the covid-19 disease outbreak has declined to a considerable extent the risk of virus mutation and transmission cannot be underestimated. By the end of 2021, maximum healthcare professionals will be fully vaccinated but the need for a booster dose is still a question of debate. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended the need for a booster dose for professionals working in high-risk zones which includes healthcare.
The booster shots will help to strengthen the healthcare professionals and prevent the chances of contracting Covid-19 disease or its variant disease. Countries like Britain, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Russia etc. are already planning to implement the booster shots for the healthcare workers which is a welcome move! The dental professionals while stepping into a new and hopeful year should keep getting a booster shot on their mind owing to the high-risk setup they are working in.
- The pandemic is nearly declining, the new year should hopefully focus on normalizing the dental practice.
- The stringent infection control protocol followed during the pandemic should still be a part of dental practice as a safety measure.
- Teledentistry is the future of dental practice and should be implemented with more standard protocol.
- Patient-centric approach should be the mainstream of dental practice in coming year.
- With the continuous research and innovation, the applications of AI and ML are expected to be the highlight of dentistry in 2022.