Amid surging infection numbers regarding COVID-19, some dentists follow procedures that allow them to remain open. The Wall Street Journal highlighted a situation where dentists lacked appropriate personal protective equipment early on in the pandemic. Since then, the situation has improved dramatically. Dental professionals such as Drescher & Cohen DDS have instituted many precautions to ensure that their businesses remain running even though the infection numbers have blown up.
Essential Services and Furloughed Employees
Dentists were deemed as one of the essential services early on in the lockdown phase. Many dentists offered to furlough their employees, while those that felt comfortable coming out to work were told to do so. Hospitals remained open, but they were inundated by the surge in infections due to the virus. Many dental practices closed because many of their employees chose to be furloughed rather than come out to work. Yet a handful managed to remain in operations throughout the lockdowns. To help those professional practices, The CDC released a series of guidelines to help dentists and their staff operate within safety parameters.
Dentists during the lockdown weren’t allowed to perform standard appointments but were limited to emergency treatments. However, many dentists found the definition of what constituted an emergency as non-specific. In most cases, dentists would observe a situation, and if, over the next ninety days, the issue would become challenging to deal with and lead to ongoing pain, the dentist would classify it as urgent. During the period that the lockdowns were in place, however, there was no such thing as regular dental appointments. Dentists had to rely on patients calling in before they could take action.
Appointment Staggering and Social Distancing
Even after the dental practices were allowed limited reopening, the focus on appointments was intense. Many dental offices still don’t take walk-ins, and you need to call to book an appointment beforehand. Sadly, with some practices closing indefinitely, the strain on the remaining dentists’ offices is beginning to show. Offices also issue strict measures to ensure that patients don’t come into contact with each other. Times of appointments are staggered, and clients aren’t allowed to move them around as they used to before the pandemic. These changes are to help with managing the spread of the disease. Patients may complain, but at present, it’s the best that the profession can do to ensure the safety of its patients and staff in this unique time.
Some may look back on the days before COVID-19 became a significant world event with longing. In that world, patients could make and shift appointments around and typically would be able to get a date for a visit earlier than a week in advance. However, with the production of a vaccine still unsure, dentists will have to adapt. People’s mouths won’t stop hurting just because there’s a pandemic on, and dentists need to respond to the demand. The world, as we know it, has changed, and the dental profession with it. Even if there is a vaccine, dentists have learned a lot from their time serving under the shadow of COVID-19.