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Dr Gautam Sharma, Ex-President of Indian Dental Association (IDA) Jammu, has said that the dental treatment throughout the globe might shoot up to double or triple from present rates as new equipment and infrastructure would be required to protect the patients from cross-infection by Corona virus.

“The new additions in a dental operatory to prevent viral cross-infection from one patient to another which would increase the cost of treatment includes complete makeover of the dental clinics, use of personal protective equipment (PPEs), use of expensive equipment and chemicals for disinfection, more para-medical personnel for keeping complete sterilization and disinfection of the operating area” said Dr Sharma.

He stressed that now the patients should be ready to shell out more money for the dental treatment as all these up-gradations in a dental clinic would be to protect the patients from cross-infection. The public should understand that the corona virus has increased the cost manifolds for a dentist to treat the patients and therefore the patients shall not hesitate to pay more as all these up-gradations and precautions can protect them from unwanted exposure to the deadly corona virus.

A good PPE consist of good quality mouth mask or respirator, surgical gloves, protective eye wear, head cap, face shield, impervious gown with hood and shoe cover etc. Approximate cost of good quality PPE set which include all equipments is between Rs.3500-4500. Some top quality respirators alone are costing between Rs.15000- 22000. Certain equipments of PPE have to be discarded after every patient as these cannot be sterilised for reuse.

Many dental clinics need makeover in term of flooring, furniture, waiting area, equipments like air exchangers, autoclaves, UV lights etc.  Regular air filters have not been designed to prevent the spread of viruses therefore HEPA filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is recommended which is an expensive equipment. Clinics also need to have impervious flooring which can easily be cleaned by wiping with chemical or fumigation. All this is going to increase the cost of treatment.

Many clinics are upgrading from their regular autoclaves to the high end B-class autoclave and ultra-violet chambers as well as UV lights for the clinic. Waiting areas of many clinics need to be redesigned to observe social distancing. Guidelines for dental clinics have advocated no or minimum people in the waiting area which means less number of patients will be treated in comparison to pre-corona days.

Cost of fumigation machines and fumigation with quaternary ammonium compounds is high and is mandatory after undertaking aerosol generating procedures which are most commonly done in dental practices. Many clinics have ordered thermal scanners to scan the patient before administering any treatment on him.

Dr.Sharma said that more personnel shall now be required in the dental clinics as cleaning of dental chair, spittoon, surfaces, floor with approved chemicals, disposal of biomedical waste and fumigation of clinical area shall immediately be done as soon as patient leaves and prepare the dental operatory for next patient.

The way corona virus has spread its tentacles, it has rung warning bells among dentists across the globe to upgrade their private clinics to cope up with any such pandemic. Patients shall understand that all these changes in private dental clinics are undertaken to protect patients from contacting corona virus infection and they shall not hesitate to pay the increased price to dentist for the quality treatment.

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