Healthcare professionals have faced unprecedented challenges over the past twelve months. However, according to a recent survey published in the Journal of the Ontario Dental Association, dentists have risen to meet the challenges brought on by the pandemic and prioritize their patients’ safety.

According to the ODA survey, Ontario’s resilient practice owners are doing what it takes to deliver oral healthcare services during the pandemic, through the use of adequate protocols and PPE. The data shows that last spring, when services were reduced to emergencies only, practice owners were diligently preparing for a safe reopening. Through major infrastructure changes and protocols provided by the ODA, 90% of dentists in the province were ready or partially ready to reopen by June 2020.

The measures that were taken by many practice owners, including Dr. Paltsev, were installing Plexiglass barriers at the reception area, adjusting the waiting room area to allow for two metres of distance, installing a high-grade air filtration system, providing a thorough screening questionnaire and temperature screening for each patient, as well as enhanced PPE for all staff members. Additionally, 97% of practice owners say they have implemented fallow times between patients, which refers to a controlled waiting period for aerosols to settle and reduce the risk of transmission.

The ODA survey says that despite these additional expenditures and having fewer patients coming to practices, “most Ontario dentists continue to go above and beyond by delivering care without imposing additional cost to patients.” To illustrate this, the ODA says that prior to the pandemic, the average number of patients cared for each day was 10.7. In August of 2020, that number dropped to 7.7, and it’s possible that since the start of the province-wide shutdown fuelled by the second wave, that number has dropped even further.

However, the findings of this survey show that through innovative strategies and a commitment to following public health advice, many of the province’s dentists have been able to overcome these challenges by creating a safe environment for their patients. Dr. Paltsev, along with 61% of Ontario dentists, continue to provide teledentistry services at no cost to patients, as an at-home alternative for those in need of care.

It goes without saying that the pandemic has changed our world in many ways, and has made a significant impact on industries far and wide. This survey shows that dental health professionals are well-equipped to adapt their operations to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, especially with the help of the ODA and its resources.