In 1820, more than 79% of Americans worked on farms. Today, the number is less than 2%, which frees up a lot of people to work in other types of fields—like dentistry. And epidemiology.
Pandemics have been coming and going for centuries—they’re a part of modern life, and because they’re often associated with the domestication of animals, they’re going to forever change how we live with (and eat) animals. Pandora’s box has been opened, and nobody can put everything back in it.
These pandemics will also forever change how we treat our patients.
The challenge goes airborne
“Ooooh, that smell—can’t you smell that smell?” Lynyrd Skynyrd wasn’t referring to the smell that hits you when you walk into a dental office, but that line, at least, registers with anyone who ever has.
The smell often doesn’t register to us dentists anymore. Our olfactory sense doesn’t register all of the odors, only the changes, so we’re just like people who live on Kansas dairy farms who no longer recognize that everything there smells like poop.
In our case, though, that smell is the scent of our rotary instruments—that drill at 35,000 rpm, whipping saliva into a frenzy. Our new challenge will be related to that aerosol. Sure, we’ve come a long way since the 1980s—we wear gloves and masks—but aerosol concerns are going to take everything a step higher.
It’s time to show us what you’ve got
Right now, everybody’s thinking about how addressing these new problems is going to be difficult and expensive, but they forget how innovative humans are. Every dentist on Earth is going to have the same problem, and least 200 of them are going to have some phenomenal ideas to help address it. Teens are already 3D printing guards designed to relieve the irritation that mask cords can wreak upon the ears of health care workers after never-ending 14-hour shifts.
We are going to come out of this! I’m sticking to everyone’s original prediction that COVID-19 will be about a three-month issue—as long as people behave like they did during California’s lockdown. I know dentists are itching to get back to work, and it looks like that’s going to happen in June.That gives you only a few weeks to figure out your infection control. What are you going to do about that smell?
I’ve already seen people start brainstorming solutions on Dentaltown message boards, which reminds me of what the site was designed for when we opened back in March 1999: a bunch of people sharing ideas and suggestions.
If you’ve got any ideas, please share them with your fellow Townies on the COVID-19 forums we’ve created, because they could help decide our future.