What It’s Like To Practice Dentistry During a Pandemic

What has been the most striking thing about the COVID-19 pandemic for dentist Alan Gonzalez? Witnessing, in real time, the importance of accurate, science-based information from trusted sources. “Research-based information is what medical professionals use to develop appropriate protocols, and the effective implementation of these protocols relies upon the population’s trust in these valued, scientific sources,” says Gonzalez, who practices at Newport Beach Dental Associates.

Is there an anecdote that illustrates your pandemic experience?
Several patients asked to postpone treating things like acute infections because of fear. We had to reassure them that the potential damage from the infection posed a greater threat to their well-being than coming into a sterile, highly controlled medical environment for the appropriate treatment.

What safety measures have you implemented?
Early on, routine cleanings and non-emergency procedures were stopped as we awaited CDC guidance on how to keep patients and staff safe. Now we are back to offering a full range of services—including examinations, cleanings, and more complex dental procedures—all with the new protocols in place. These include limiting the number of patients we see daily, temperature checks, limiting (the number of) patients in our waiting room, heightened sterilization techniques, and physical barriers for patients and staff.

Why is routine dental care important even during a pandemic?
Patients can prevent more complicated procedures by continuing with cleanings and routine examinations. There’s a connection between oral health and general health, specifically, the body’s immune response. Research has demonstrated that neglecting your oral health can compromise the immune system and affect your overall health, including your cardiovascular system.

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