NEW YORK, July 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Navigating the world of dentistry in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic can be a challenge, especially for those new to their profession. If you recently finished dental school and are starting out in a practice, you're likely struggling with both office closures and student loans simultaneously. And now that the country is beginning different degrees of reopening, there's the added concern of Coronavirus transmission. Here are some of the steps dentists are taking to keep themselves and their patients safe in this evolving situation.
How are dentists adapting to Coronavirus across America?
Dental practices are reopening in many states across the country for regular procedures. But preventing the spread of Coronavirus is a particularly challenging obstacle that many practices are working to overcome. The disease can spread through saliva droplets, so dental patients with COVID-19 could infect others as many dental procedures and tools cause saliva spray.
Dental practices are implementing new rules, such as requiring staff to wear protective gear and being meticulous when disinfecting the procedure room. As it takes more time to clean every surface and instrument, and with offices practicing social distancing, many dentists are forced to see a limited number of patients each day. This means that some practices may struggle financially in the coming months, or even years.
Federal loan programs for small businesses can help with payment relief and expenses that dental practices are currently having trouble paying for. There are a variety of loans that practices can apply for under the CARES Act based on their financial needs, including Economic Industry Disaster Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program. Dentists with federal student loan debt have immediate relief under the CARES Act. Federal student borrowers are not required to make a payment through Sept. 30 with no interest accumulating during this payment suspension. And if you are a new DDS struggling to pay off private student debt, student loan refinancing may save you money and help you cut back on how much you owe.
What you can do to prepare for reopening
Here are some precautionary measures that dental practices are taking, and that you can keep in mind when the office you work at is getting ready to reopen:
- Wear protective gear, including N95 masks, surgical gowns, face shields, surgical caps, and shoe coverings
- Sterilize all instruments and surfaces in the office after each appointment
- Use instruments that decrease saliva spray, including high-evacuation suction devices and rubber dams
- Create a daily appointment schedule that promotes social distancing practices
What could the COVID-19 pandemic mean for the future of dentistry?
As more dental practices open up and resume routine procedures, things will normalize over time. Initially, many practices will limit the number of daily appointments and see a lower number of patients come in due to their fear of getting infected. Dentists and other professionals in the field may struggle in the beginning but hopefully, as practices continue to reopen for more procedures and patients become familiar with new safety measures, business will gradually start to pick up.
With the precautionary measures that those in the field are taking, dentistry will likely look very different for the foreseeable future. But prioritizing safety is key to working towards a future without Coronavirus. For now, preparing and adapting may be the best methods your practice can use to overcome the challenges of COVID-19.
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