The success of the vaccination rollout in the United States and the rest of the world, has allowed states and the federal government to begin a process of easing restrictions. At the height of the pandemic, many people had deferred their visits to the Waterloo dentist, either because of unfounded fears that dentists had higher infection rates than other healthcare professionals (though evidence now suggests the contrary), or simply because restrictions prevented them from accessing dental care. We are now at a point in which the evidence shows that dental clinics are very safe, and the easing of restrictions makes dental care more accessible than at any other time since the pandemic struck.
Dentists have historically taken the highest mitigation measures to offset the risk of infection of any disease during dental procedures. Dental procedures generate high volumes of aerosols, and this carries with it the risk of catching a range of diseases. So even before Covid-19 emerged, dentists took a lot of precautions to assure their safety and that of their patients.
Dentists wore personal protective equipment (PPE) and clothing to ensure that they were protected from aerosols and to ensure that sanitary conditions were pristine. Anyone who visited dentists prior to the pandemic will know that dentists wore surgical masks, gloves and coats before that was recommended by the Centres for Disease Control as a necessary mitigation measure.
Vaccines have added to the safety of visiting dental clinics.
This means that dentists, among other healthcare professionals, are beginning to unroll some of the emergency mitigation measures that they took during the pandemic’s height. At the height of the pandemic, dentists dressed as if they were about to conduct brain surgery. They were completely covered by their PPE. Not only were dentists covered, their patients were covered as well. Patients had to wear an N95 mask, the highest grade of masks available, as well as a face shield and on many occasions, shoe coverings.
Many dentists are prepared to keep a stock of PPE for themselves and their patients in case there is ever a spike in Covid-19 cases, but now they are using masks and other coverings depending on the patient’s needs.
These days, when patients visit a dental clinic, they feel more comfortable and this is even truer when they can see their dentist’s facial expressions. This renewed confidence is a result of the vaccines. It has given dentists and patients faith that they can re-humanize relations without putting anyone’s life at risk. Ultimately, healthcare is about treating human beings and relations of trust and empathy are hard to build when one’s face is covered. Vaccines have restored an element of humanity and trust in the dental clinic.
It’s important for patients to be able to see their dentist’s facial expressions in order to determine what their dentist is thinking or feeling. It’s a way of bridging a divide.
Vaccines have also meant that patients who had postponed their trip to dental clinics at the height of the pandemic, are now returning. Often, these patients have experienced a decline in their oral health as a result of the long period away from their dentist.