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Challenging time for health professionals ahead in wake of COVID-19: Ex Prez IDA

Last Updated on April 3, 2020 at 4:10 am

JAMMU, April 3: Dr Gautam Sharma, Ex-President of Indian Dental Association (IDA), Jammu, has said that the dental surgeons shall have to be careful even after the ongoing corona virus subsides as they will for some time continue to face the threat of contracting infection. While working in the oral cavity, the dentists are always in contact with the saliva and blood of the patients. Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is abundantly present in nasopharyngeal and salivary secretions of affected patients.

Scaling of teeth, use of air-rotor to prepare cavities and reduction hand-pieces are aerosol generating procedures, commonly undertaken by a dentist.  Aerosols may contain virus if patient is a carrier or infected with corona virus. Even the greatest of precaution will not be able to protect the dental surgeons and support staff as the aerosol production in dental procedure is enormous. Other patients entering the clinical area will also be at a high risk.

The death of health professionals worldwide due to COVID-19 is shocking and some doctors in the government set-up are resigning from their jobs fearing infection from this deadly virus. Newspaper reports of non-availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the healthcare professional who are attending the patients suffering from corona virus from various parts of the globe is worrisome.

He said that the lockdown in India has been able to contain the number of corona patients as well as community spread of the virus till now, but it is still looming and will be out of control if public does not obey social distancing as well as other guidelines issued by the government authorities.

He said that more than 75% of corona infected patients have only mild symptoms that resemble flu-like symptoms and allergies, which might lead to an increased number of undiagnosed cases. Incubation period of Covid-19 is said to be ranging from 0-24 days, so it is difficult to diagnose a patient of this infection entering a dental clinic for treatment without laboratory investigations.

If dentist has to take some emergency treatment of any patient during these days then he must use personal protective equipment (PPE), pre-procedural mouth rinsing by the patient with povidone-iodine gargles, rubber dam to minimize aerosols and splatter.  The supporting staff of the clinic should disinfect the surfaces using chemicals approved for corona virus and maintain a dry and well ventilated environment of the clinic.

Dr.Sharma said that the trouble for doctors will not end even after the threat of corona virus subsides. He underlined that due to the shortage of government jobs, most of the dentists are running their private practices but due to corona virus threat the dental clinics are closed. Majority of dentists are under the bank loans which they have got to start their private clinics. Now it’s a tough time for them as their clinics are shut and there is uncertainty of starting the dental practice again due to enormous risk involved. The bills are piling-up but there is no income. The European countries have put in place a range of financial support measures but there is no such provision in India so far.

Vaccine against corona virus is last hope for the dentist but it will take time to be available commercially.