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Dentists are used to dealing with all things small. Small teeth, small nerve canals, small spaces to clean. It was therefore mind-boggling to see how something so microscopic could bring the whole world to a complete halt. From a dental perspective, this meant putting our hand-pieces down, chairs off and lights out, BUT still keeping our masks on!
From clinicians to crystal ball readers
We suddenly transformed from being clinicians, unable to do our jobs without our mirrors, probes, and all our other little tools, to literally becoming crystal ball readers, trying our best to make an accurate diagnosis while our patients described their problems and symptoms over the phone. For dentists, who are usually known to be extremely meticulous and careful about ensuring the correct diagnoses and treatments plans are communicated, this was an extremely frustrating time. Nonetheless, we had to ensure we did the best we could during these unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes just a reassuring voice over the phone was enough to reduce the anxieties patients had, other times it was a simple solution that a patient could easily manage themselves at home. I did become very proud of my own set of telephone dentistry graduates who managed to sort themselves out with temporary fillings, re-cementing loose crowns temporarily, and those who improved their brushing techniques to alleviate gum pain.
Despite these small wins, we were all still desperately wanting to get back to work to ensure our patients were cared for properly. Many aspects of oral care were simply impossible to carry out without seeing a patient within the comforts of a dental clinic.
Life after lockdown
Having been back at work for a few weeks, it is evident how much our patients appreciate being able to see us again, especially those who had pain lingering from lockdown. We suddenly have patients who have been reluctant to visit the dentist, feel so much more grateful about the chance to be cared for once again.
Patients who are having to go into hospital for cancer care and needing their oral health check to ensure there are no complications, kids (and parents) who have had a few too many sugary snacks leading to lost fillings, toothaches and more are finally being seen.
We couldn’t have done it alone
It is important to note the amount of hard work that went on behind the scenes to prepare the dentists return to work. If it wasn’t for the managers, dental nurses and others who ensured everything was in place for the safety of our patients and staff we would not be able to offer the services we are today. This pandemic has shown us we could not be overcautious and so every effort went into ensuring that it was safe for patients to return to us for their care.
Ensuring patient and staff safety
This has meant we have had to completely reduce the number of patients we see in a day to ensure social-distancing guidelines are followed, but also to allow for extra time for our hard-working nurses to ensure every surface has been well cleaned and disinfected following each appointment. Although this may mean our patients may have to wait longer for their appointments, we know that they appreciate the extra safety measures put in place to make their experience with us safe.
While we wait for the correct PPE to be received we have been very limited in what treatments we can provide, however it will not be long before we get to offer the full range of dental services that we have been trained to do well. We may just look a little alien like when you see us next time but it will still be your friendly team under all the gear!
We look forward to seeing your bright smiles being looked after by us again soon!
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