Dentistry to the Rescue

At this stage, I think everyone has had enough self-isolation. The fact that we know how important self-isolation is doesn’t really help with the cabin fever.  I think it would be safe to say that just about everyone would like to see things get back on the road to “normal”.

Let’s look at how dentistry could play a huge role in making that happen.

It is universally suggested that in order for the economy to get back to some semblance of “normal” it will be necessary to test a very large portion of the population. Up until recently, we have all been told that the testing process is anything but ideal; results are slow, and availability is an issue. In the recent dialogues between President Trump and the Governors, the Governors have been firm that they will not open up their states until such time as they can start testing on a very large scale.

So how do dentists fit into this situation?

The big change that could allow dentists to play a key role in getting the country open again was announced around April 11th.   A Canadian company out of Ottawa, Spartan Bioscience, received approval from Health Canada for a fast turnaround (30-minute) test for COVID-19 (Abbott Labs in the US has a 15-minute test).  Assuming the fast test works, and assuming that large quantities of them can be manufactured quickly, then the next question is where could they be administered? For sure there will be location sensitive places like airports, where the testing will be done on the spot, but what about the population at large? This is where dentistry could play a huge role.

If we want to test thousands of Canadians, we will need to satisfy a number of conditions including, but not limited to:

  1. We will need a lot of convenient locations,
  2. We will need qualified healthcare staff to administer and process the tests,
  3. We will need locations that the public will trust from a virus-free perspective, but which are not places where they are likely to run into infected people – this eliminates all the places where sick people hang out – hospitals, walk-in clinics, and doctors’ offices.

Dental offices would be the perfect place to administer the fast turn-around tests as most people already know and trust a dentist and there are thousands of offices virtually everywhere in Canada that are clean, and for the most part germ-free. Furthermore, the different members of the dental team would have enough healthcare training to administer the tests, and offices could likely be set up to administer the testing very quickly. Not to mention, dental offices are totally available at the present time to exclusively administer the tests.

So, there appears to be a good public health argument for having dentists play a major role in getting the country out of isolation, but there would also be some great benefits for the dentists that would also accompany the responsibility:

  1. It would get dental offices up and running again, which will shorten the inevitable ramp-up period once the country opens again.
  2. It would possibly allow dentists to generate some revenue during this down-time.
  3. It would eliminate any health concerns that patients could otherwise have once the country opens again, after all, this would be the place where they were tested and hopefully cleared.
  4. It would give dentistry a head-start on the reopening process.
  5. It would also dramatically increase the public perception and appreciation of dentists – you could not buy that kind of marketing anywhere.

What can you do about it?

Through our various organizational and government contacts, we are doing our best to push the concept.  Assuming that most of our followers are involved directly or indirectly in the dental profession, you too can petition your governing bodies to follow up on the opportunity.

If you have any questions about the above or if you are interested in finding out how we can help your practice during the shutdown please contact Cassandra Paolella cpaolella@hillkindy.com or Derek Hill dhill@hillkindy.com.