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In the ‘before times,’ as people are now calling the period before COVID-19, dentists were already managing a highly demanding profession with significant mental health stressors. In fact, dentists have one of the highest rates of depression and suicide amongst health workers. The rate of suicide among dentists in the United States is twice that of the general population and three times higher than other healthcare professions.
Now, with COVID-19, dentists are largely forgotten in the panoply of health providers working during the pandemic. They’ve been forgotten as both business owners with a high overhead to maintain their practices and safeguard their staff, and as front-line workers, who do essential and potentially life-endangering work requiring personal protective equipment (PPE).
This has meant the stress of dentists is at an all time high.
If our dentists are stressed, it’s likely not good for our oral health. Research shows that patient care is directly related to practitioner health. So, what makes dentistry so stressful?
Research demonstrates that dentists can internalize their patients’ fears and anxieties related to dental care. They also commonly work in small teams and can feel isolated. With the scarcity of networks of colleagues and mentors who have a buffering effect through the support they provide in other professions, dentists might perceive themselves as working in a vacuum, which can be detrimental for their mental health.
Dentists are also usually self-employed business owners with responsibilities related to staffing and financial management. This can impede work-life balance and make taking time off to practice self-care or manage potential mental health challenges, particularly extended leaves of absence, difficult.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related closures have added to this complexity.
Like many other business owners, dentists were faced with additional pressures resulting from prolonged office closures and reduced patient flow, which led to staff layoffs and significant revenue losses. Dental offices that remained open during the pandemic restricted their treatment to emergency and urgent cases only and had to develop protocols for the increased burden of disinfection and sterilization practices.
Although they haven’t been considered frontline workers, many dentists also had to manage dental emergencies that, if left untreated, had the potential to develop into serious, life-threatening conditions. Working during a pandemic means worrying about contracting COVID yourself — and possibly bringing it home to your family.
Dentists from all across Canada expressed the need for direction and strong leadership from their regulatory bodies and associations to weather the storm and be able to practice dentistry in a manner that protects their patients, staff and themselves. At the beginning of the crisis, there was a call for enhanced PPE, which was hard to come by. PPE is also hard to work in and may add some discomfort imposed by the extra equipment.
Although months have passed since the “acute” phase of the pandemic has started, dentists are still concerned about securing adequate PPE, with some charging additional fees to cover their PPE expenditures.
There are initiatives that can help combat dentists’ stress.
Expanded peer mentorship and support programs in dental schools and the dental community would be a critical first step. These programs should be undertaken by dental educators and dental associations and employ proactive approaches that support mental health and wellbeing.
Organized peer support programs could build on existing, small-scale initiatives, such as the British Columbia Dental Association’s (BCDA) Dentist Wellness Program (DWP), where clinical counseling services are offered to dentists and their family members.
Governments should also help to facilitate the acquisition of adequate PPE supplies to dentists, as they have to physicians and nurses, now that dental care has resumed, and dentists are back to practicing.
It’s important that we safeguard our dentists’ mental health and well being as they work on the front lines to keep Canadians healthy. Let’s make sure they are no longer the forgotten health profession.
Authors: Tala Maragha and Mario Brondani
Article originally appeared at: https://quoimedia.com/
Our Dear Soho Dental Family,
We wanted to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
It is our hope that 2021 will be a better year for us all.
As you know the government of Ontario announced a Province-wide shutdown starting on December 26th, 2020. We want to assure you that dentistry continues to be an essential service.
We will remain open for all of your dental needs.
We continue to observe strict safety protocols to ensure your next visit is safe and comfortable. See below for details on our safety protocols.
Soho Dental Team
Our Dear Soho Dental Family,
This year has been a difficult one for us all. The global pandemic has left its mark upon us in different ways. It continues to test our strength and resilience as we try to cope with the second wave.
The holidays for me have always been a time for gratitude. This is particularly true this year. Despite all the difficulties that we are facing, I have sincere gratitude for good health and the love of family and friends.
I have gratitude for the trust and loyalty that you have all shown me during this time. My purpose has always been to be of service to my patients. Without your support, this would not be possible. I wanted to thank you for this. Me and my staff will continue to stay vigilant to ensure that we are able to deliver care in the safest possible way.
The news of the vaccine brings with it hope and encouragement but let us not forget that it will be some time before we begin to truly see the benefits. Until then, please stay cautious during this holiday season.
I wanted to wish you all the absolute best for the holiday season! I hope that the joy of the season still permeates even if we must celebrate in a different manner. We wish you and your families good health, happiness, and resilience to overcome all of your difficulties.
Sincerely, Dr Haji and the Soho Dental Team
Dr. Haji and the staff at Soho Dental are extremely proud to be the focus of Zeiss Canada’s latest article “Beyond ergonomics- microscopic dentistry in COVID-19”.
Soho Dental and Zeiss Canada work closely together to provide our patients with the latest in dental technology & care. Zeiss’s microscopes allow more comfort for dentist & patient alike, and provide incredible resolution and accuracy making our work more accurate, as well as less invasive for the patient. Be sure to check out this amazing piece of technology on your next visit to Soho Dental!
The previous crown on the right lateral incisor had served the patient for many years. Unfortunately, it had cracked on the palatal aspect and required replacement. We took advantage of this opportunity to improve the colour match, add characterization and improve the gingival health at the crown margin. The preparation of the margin and a well contoured provisional were critical to improving the tissue health. Bonding to the right central and left lateral was also done to improve the aesthetics. Bonding to the canine teeth was done to provide disclusion in function. In addition, a nightguard is essential for this patient!
It was wonderful to have Rod and Lubna from Zeiss Canada at the clinic! I had the opportunity to talk about my favorite technology in the office, which is of course my microscope. The microscope has allowed me to practice ergonomically. It also helps me to see the treatment area in detail which allows me to reach my treatment goals when delivering care.
In addition, we discussed the massive transition that we have had to make to practice safely during the pandemic. Physical distancing amongst the staff, amongst patients in the clinic, the use of masks at all times, air purification, and the challenges of catching up with patient care after having been closed are some of the items that we discussed.
The challenges continue to be daunting at times but our patients have been extremely compliant with the new protocols. Thank you immensely all for your cooperation in helping us provide dental care safely!
Our patient was concerned about her discoloured front tooth. The discolouration is a result of trauma to the tooth when she was younger. Composite resin was added to the tooth to repair a chip from the trauma. Additional composite was added to help with the discolouration. It was time to replace the composite as it was worn and discoloured. Shade matching a dark tooth is a challenge because we are limited to the degree we can change the shade based on the thickness of the material. The more thickness of material we need, the more tooth structure needs to be removed. In this case, only the pre-existing composite was removed. Ideally, a porcelain restoration will give better aesthetics and longevity. Until then, our patient is thrilled with the improvement in the look of her front tooth with composite!
COVID-19 has caused us all to make serious adjustments to our lives and daily routine, at Soho Dental we have embraced this change, and our staff and clients have been fantastic at working with us to achieve this “new reality” in our clinic space!
August is coming to an end and at Soho Dental, we have had another exciting month doing what we love to do!
Once again, a sincere thank you for everyone’s compliance to our safety protocols when coming in for your dental visit. Masks, social distancing and hand hygiene are the cornerstones to keeping everyone safe.
Aside from the visible safety measures that we have established, I wanted to bring awareness to some additional ones that are less obvious.
Every treatment room has a medical grade HEPA filtration unit to circulate the air and filter out contaminants multiple times per hour. These are running all the time during clinic hours.
All treatment rooms, common areas and furniture get fogged daily with a Health Canada approved disinfectant that sanitizes difficult to access surfaces.
These are just additional measures that may have benefit. Ultimately, the most important safety measures that we can all carry out during our daily activities in all environments are to wear a mask in indoor spaces, to maintain social distance and to sanitize our hands. Thank you so much for doing your part when you come to see us!
We are now booking appointments for cleanings and all other dental care for the upcoming months. Please feel free to email us to book your appointment. Most importantly, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to address your concerns and to keep us all safe!
Dr Haji and the team at Soho Dental