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What One Dentist's Story Can Teach Us About COVID-19 & Dentistry

 

COVID-19 has been challenging for almost every kind of business. The new risks, safety standards, and sense of duty associated with the pandemic have been stifling for everyone from plumbers to servers to retail managers.

 

But the above examples – and many other industries – don’t face nearly the COVID-19-related risks of a dental office.

 

As a dental professional, you're exposed to bacteria and germs in the form of dental aerosols on a daily basis, putting dentists and hygienists in the highest risk category for COVID-19 transmission. Not to mention you’re dealing with the same common obstacles that everyone else must deal with, such as social distancing and wearing PPE day in and out.

 

Since this crisis is entirely unprecedented, most throughout the dental sphere are doing our best to establish excellent practices to navigate these murky pandemic-laden waters.

 

So, when Dr. Mike Smith chronicled his COVID-19 experiences for Dentaltown magazine, we were eager to investigate and learn from his story.

Let’s discuss the five key takeaways on COVID-19 and dentistry from Dr. Smith’s firsthand experiences:

 

Lesson 1: Keep a Contingency Plan in Your Back Pocket

 

The first lesson provided by Dr. Smith stems from him scaling down his practice to emergency services only.

 

With shutdowns on the horizon and the need to flatten the virus's curve, Dr. Smith’s large practice needed to limit its considerable foot traffic. Otherwise, he would have been encouraging far too much person-to-person interaction and exacerbating the potential COVID-19 spread.

 

This decision presented a distinct challenge: his patients already found themselves waiting long for appointments, only to have them pushed back further.

 

Instead of merely telling his patients they were out of luck, Dr. Smith felt it necessary to implement a backup plan. He pointed patients toward his state dental society’s guidance.

 

The dental society provided Smith with reinforcements to help clients figure out how to receive dental care without his practice. As such, after informing his staff about his decision, he sent an email blast to his patient network to keep them abreast of these happenings.

 

Dr. Smith’s contingency plan saved him from plenty of undue stress while keeping things streamlined and hassle-free.

 

Lesson 2: Maintain a To-Do List for Your Practice

 

Now more than ever, as a leader in both the dental community and in your own neighbourhood, you must find your inner optimist.

 

With that said, the slowed-down foot traffic in your practice doesn't have to be a setback.

 

For instance, Dr. Smith used the time allotted by the lockdowns to do some proverbial housecleaning and side projects he’d let slide. Namely, the office received some much-needed repairs and touch-ups that the dentist was previously too busy to manage.

 

Creating a to-do list for these downtimes ensures a productive lockdown that helps your practice flourish instead of hindering it.

 

Lesson 3: Learn the Art of Flexibility

 

We already mentioned in the introduction about how the pandemic has presented the dental community with unprecedented circumstances.

 

There's no fixed solution, playbook, or magic bullet with all the answers. Thus, your flexibility and willingness to pivot and roll with the punches are absolutely critical. Whereas committing too much in one direction is a fool’s errand.

 

Dr. Smith tapped into his flexibility when he initially sent his staff home one week into the shutdown, paying them an average weekly wage. Eventually, he began laying people off so they could earn more through unemployment. Furthermore, he changed his PPP loan plan.

 

The doctor weighed his and his employees' needs by keeping his ear to the ground and keeping up with the various shifts in the fluxing landscape.

 

Lesson 4: Commit to Self-Care

 

Mental health struggles have been well-documented during the pandemic, with signs indicating a rough winter ahead.

 

After five weeks of dealing with the lockdown, Dr. Smith decided it was time to take a week off.  This mental break from the office and gave his brain some breathing room paid dividends.

 

As dental care providers, it's all too common for you to prioritize others' wellbeing over yourselves. But to perform your duties at the level that you expect, you must focus on your own wellness.

 

Click here to read “A Selfcare Survival Guide for Busy Dental Professionals.” You’ll receive a detailed itinerary that doesn’t merely focus on physical and mental rest. It also prioritizes physical activity, stress reduction, and proper nutrition.

 

Lesson 5: Stay in Touch with Your Peers

 

The term “lockdown” isn’t known for its association with socializing and gathering in groups to freely exchange ideas.

 

Such isolation strains your mental health.

 

Most importantly, though, as a dental professional, you must interact with your peers to stay sharp and informed about the latest industry developments.

 

Fortunately, we live in a world where these kinds of interactions don’t have to occur on a face-to-face basis.

 

For example, Dr. Smith increased his activity on the Dentaltown message board. This approach kept him well-informed about pandemic-related challenges. Receiving helpful feedback from his industry peers helped him make informed decisions and maintain his practice during this trying time.

 

Hopefully, these lessons have provided helpful insights into how you think you should run your practice during the pandemic. Sable Industries Inc. continues to serve the dental profession and dealer/distributor community during these trying times. We look forward to assisting you!

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