The lockdown phase—a toothache for dentists

COVID-19 Health State

The nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus has hit people of all professions and dentistry is no different. Private dental practitioners are facing financial crisis with no primary income.    

 By Manasvi Gupta

Chandigarh || April 14, 2020

The Indian Dental Association had issued preventive guidelines before the lockdown for dental professionals on the coronavirus threat asking them to minimize their exposure to the virus.

However, after the lockdown was announced, all private dentists were asked to suspend their services completely.

Dr. Dev, President of Indian Dental Association, Ropar branch, Punjab said that the association had decided to suspend private dental services till “PPE” kits, other safety equipments, and specialized machines are not being made available to them.

Dr. Rajesh Bindal from Haryana expressed his dismay over shutting down of his private dental clinic amid lockdown due to COVID-19. He said, “Private dentists are not allowed to open their clinics. Emergency dental surgeries are allowed, but only in government hospitals. However, most of the government dentists have been deployed to assist other doctors for treating COVID-19 patients.”

Dr. Dev added that all non-essential dental services have been postponed until sufficient safety measures are adopted. However, treatments have been going on in government OPDs on a priority basis.

He further revealed that their branch had already paid a month’s advance salary to the dentists, looking at the situation. “In this time of crisis we cannot ask the government to compensate us, so we ourselves have taken certain measures to deal with it.”

Dr. Nikita Bansal, another private practitioner from Punjab said, “We ourselves do not have any source of income so how can the government expect us to pay salaries to the employees.”

“Moreover, local patients  with dental pains ask for treatment, but of course we can’t. Though that heightens the chances of infection due to lack of treatment. Many have even complained of their miserable condition as they are not able to eat properly due to the pain,” she added.

However, she welcomed the move and added that dentists are at a much higher risk of being infected with coronavirus since they have to be too close to a patient’s mouth in comparison to other medical professionals.

Apart from that, the Indian Council of Medical Research has initiated virtual services like telemedicine and teleconsultation to help people in the lockdown and has started various medical help lines, but dentists have revealed that the option of virtual treatment is limited in dentistry. They said that people can ask for temporary pain relief solutions and antibiotics prescriptions from them, or send them pictures of their teeth and infected area, but it is not much effective.

Dr. Dev said that no dental practitioner charges any fee for any teleconsultation service, and no one can refuse to provide these services.

Therefore, dentists have taken to social media to spread awareness among the people and have asked them to follow a proper dental hygiene while staying at homes.

(Image credits- Dr. Nikita Bansal)


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