In conflict zone, dentists battle virus with tech
It’s safety first as dentists of the tricity are pulling out all stops to ensure full protection for patients in these challenging Covid times. Working in the conflict zone for more than a year, these silent warriors in white have stepped up their guard to continue extending relief to those in need as the second wave surges.
The dentists were treating only emergencies when the lockdown was imposed in March last year and they heeded to the call by the Indian Dental Association (IDA) to temporarily suspend all non-urgent treatment until the crisis blew over. Clinics reopened in compliance with the Covid-19 protocol issued on May 16, 2020. Almost a year on, our dental clinics are geared up with state-of-the-art protection procedure for a safe experience.
Dr JS Batth, an endodontist, implantologist and cosmetic dentist, who runs a high-end clinic in Sector 5, Panchkula, says, “We have put up a protection shield that removes up to eight times more aerosols and viruses than traditional electrostatic sterilisation. An extra oral suction machine, a high-pressure plasma air purifier and a fumigator are just some of the features added in these challenging times.”
His spic and span clinic that oozes calm is aimed at relaxing the patient before he/she is put through a virtual tour of the line of treatment. “Patients need reassurance, particularly in these trying times. The dentist’s job is not firefighting alone. It’s my responsibility to inform the patient when he/she is at the receptive best about what lies ahead.”
Dr Batth, who has been practising for 25 years, says during pre-Covid times, he and his wife, Dr Harpreet Batth, who is a prosthodontist and principal at BRS Dental College, would work in two shifts but now they have restricted themselves to one shift as preparation and sanitisation take a lot of time. “We need to recondition the atmosphere. There can’t be any cross-contamination. Our stringent standards draw patients from other cities besides NRIs and it’s all by word of mouth,” he says.
Tech to their advantage
Dr Rahul Diwan, an orthodontist practising in Sector 19, Chandigarh, says despite the safety protocols, the second Covid-19 wave has led to a 60% dip in new cases. “I see a drop of another 10% in May. Patients are wary to undergo elective and cosmetic treatment. They are refraining till they get vaccinated. Most of my patients are between 18 and 35 years and vaccination opens up for them from May 1 so I see the situation improving after next month.”
Dr Diwan, who is a consultant at a dozen clinics in the tricity, says that dentists see patients only on appointment after taking the travel history unless it’s an urgent matter. “The appointment is granted preferably after a video call so that we can assess if the patient really needs to visit the clinic. We get a fair idea simply by looking at the problem. Once an appointment is granted, we ensure the clinic is sanitised and there is no overlap of patients. Only the patient is allowed in and the relative or attendant waits outside. We send a link over the phone for digital payment,” he says.
Calm and caution prescribed
Dr Anupam Kakkar, who runs a clinic in Sector 12, Panchkula, recalls how patients were far more careful during the first wave. “There was a fear of the unknown back then, but this time they tend to be lax. So, we have had to up the guard further. We grant appointments only after a telephonic assessment,” he says.
The dentists now don N-95/100 masks, goggles or faceshields, gowns or PPE kits to stay protected. They admit the footfall has fallen since pre-Covid times but see no reason to panic. Rather, they urge people to stay safe by following simple oral hygiene measures such as brushing after meals or at least twice a day, flossing and warm saline rinses.