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The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our day-to-day routine. We have each experienced the far-reaching impact on many aspects of life. However, the slow down in dentistry due to COVID-19 has also given us the time to truly reflect on personal and professional experiences. 

There are many external sources of information influencing and shaping our current views. Some are fact based and others are pure speculation. I have personally read and listened to endless content focused on the current state of dentistry, and how our industry will survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this content, in my opinion is leaving dental professionals with many questions and unknowns. 

For example, how can we go back to practice and create the aerosols we typically produce?  How do we best protect ourselves, our patients our families and community? Will patients who are asymptomatic be capable of transmitting COVID-19 infectious agents? These are just a few pondering thoughts and concerns circulating. 

Rest assured, it's perfectly normal to still have questions and not know all the answers yet. I have recently decided to embrace the unknown, and in the meantime learn all I can to help shape my future decisions. 

I would like to acknowledge I know the unknown can be frightening for many, but stay strong and focus on the things you can control. 

I challenge you to take this time to really stop and re-examine your thoughts on the future of dental hygiene. 

Let's choose to see the good! I strongly believe this new era of dentistry we are all awaiting is going to be the beginning of heightened awareness of prevention. I see a future where our patients are going to take their oral health and general health much more seriously. I also have complete confidence there will be clear guidance provided on the measures needed to provide safe and effective care. We just need to have patience.  

Some key points on the value we can bring back to practice! 

  • One of our goals as dental hygienists is to help our patients achieve as minimal oral inflammation as possible. As we know this will not only improve their oral health status but also their overall wellbeing. 
  • We provide individualized strategies and treatment protocols for chair-side treatment and home care recommendations. All aimed at addressing the bacterial load in the oral cavity. Again, ensuring our clients do not suffer with the inflammatory burden initiated from oral bacteria triggering the immune response. 
  • Periodontal management strategies that are integrated into practices need to constantly evolve.  I’m sure many of us could agree some changes or enhancements could be made with our current perio programs. And by this I mean, ensuring we are doing all we can to help move our patients one step closer to being inflammation free. 

I believe when patients start to return for their hygiene appointments this will be the perfect time to be implementing comprehensive treatment protocols and new technologies into practice. 

Why now you ask?  

This is because we can expect many patients to be dealing with a heightened inflammatory response due to stress from being laid off work, the stress of the pandemic itself, and not to mention many patients will be over-due for their dental hygiene appointments. 

With COVID-19 still circulating and the concerns of a second wave in the future, dental professionals will need to have clear focus on reducing oral inflammation, so the burden can be as minimal as possible.  This is important for several reasons, but one thought that stands out in my mind, when patients are in a healthier state, they will have the best chance at being able to overcome a viral infection such as COVID-19. 

I see a future where we are strong and needed in many different ways! So look at how you are delivering treatment options to address the needs of your periodontally involved patients with active inflammation. Use this time to investigate new adjuncts to help elevate your care. 

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