As more dental practices are working to push themselves past the onset of the pandemic, many practices have faced numerous challenges. When Covid-19 hit, it impacted the world, and many dental practices had to shut down and defend against the rising spread of the virus, economic stress, and other social ailments. Many had to shut down their services and focus on providing emergency treatments, but newer challenges have risen since reaching the post-pandemic stage. More dentists are working to regain their patients and make up for the lost time. As these challenges continue to rise, many technological and social advances have taken hold, changing the dental industry for the future.
What’s Changed in Dentistry Since The Pandemic?
The recent few years of the pandemic have resulted in increased overall costs of running practices, creating sources of pressure that, despite their harm, challenges researchers and experts in their fields to innovate for new solutions. As more dentists work to recover from the pandemic, new advancements have made way, changing how patients interact with their oral care. These changes include:
- Standardized Sanitation and Safety: The pandemic resulted in newer safety practices, and as of right now, about 8 in 10 dentists currently use the same practices instilled when the pandemic started. This includes using protective eyewear, surgical masks, social distancing, and non-sterile gloves. Many dental procedures have been permanently adapted to reduce the spread of aerosols, including suction devices and increased use of dental dams. All of these precautions have now become standardized and are continuing to be used due to their effectiveness in preventing the spread of illness.
- Teledentistry and Communication: With the rise of social distancing during the pandemic came more technological advancements. More specifically, communication methods between dentists and their patients have gone digital through the rise of teledentistry. Teledentistry uses communication devices to allow patients to schedule appointments, speak with their dentists virtually, and easily transfer dental records. This shift in communication has also expanded access for patients, specifically in impoverished and rural areas, and because of these benefits, some dentists have decided to keep these methods long-term.
- Slower Technology Adoption: Although safety measures and teledentistry have become further integrated, diagnostics and treatment advancements have slowed, leading to more dentists being less likely to adopt these newer systems into their practices. According to some studies, about half of dentists are likely to invest in newer technologies for their practices. The time and investment involved in these technologies have led to this decline, but instead of technology, practices have been working towards advancing their techniques and material use during treatment.
What Does the Future of Dentistry Look Like After The Pandemic?
All of these shifts in practice have changed dentistry for better or worse, and since the pandemic, many dentists have been working to adapt to these new circumstances. By continuing to adapt, dentists may be able to reach out to their patients by working towards preventative, conservative dental care, which will hopefully improve the lives of their patients and their dental health for generations to come.