Thoughts of a Dentist During a Pandemic

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It’s a crazy time to be practicing dentistry, or should I say, it’s a crazy time to be trying to do anything at all! People are walking around with masks and gloves on nearly all the time. They are washing their hands all the time and constantly wiping down countertops. They are making sure all of their items are clean before touching them and trying not to touch doorknobs and drawer handles with dirty hands. They take precautions assuming that anyone they come across is potentially infectious.

But somehow in dental offices, these things are not so unusual. In fact, dental offices have been operating in this manner for decades, since the 1980s. Standard precautions dictated that we treat all people as potentially infectious for any dental visit, from a cleaning to a dental emergency. I have been practicing dentistry for 20 years in various practices, and now at Vitelli Comprehensive Dentistry, I have never known anything to be different in a dental office. The big difference to me is that the outside world now behaves like we do at work! Certainly crazy! Maybe soon they will all start flossing…

Over the last few months, I have had the privilege of interacting with many different people (of course with my proper PPE). There are a variety of people taking different approaches and taking different degrees of precautions. The biggest challenge for folks, in my opinion, is keeping track of the things that they touch. In dentistry, we are taught to be acutely aware of what we touch with gloves on and to keep track of clean and dirty items. This becomes easier with practice and with repetition of the same tasks over and over again. The lay public will eventually get better at this, but by then, the pandemic will probably have ended. And the pandemic ending will be a good thing indeed. But rest assured, that at Vitelli Comprehensive Dentistry in Germantown, this is our regular mode of operation, pandemic or not. Your overall safety is just as important to us as your dental health. During the flu season and even when everyone seems perfectly healthy.

In life when we experience a traumatic event, such as living through a pandemic, there are valuable life lessons that can be learned. What are the life lessons for the year 2020? To me, I have learned to appreciate more my friends and extended family. So many of them I have not been able to see and likely will not for a while.

So, let’s all stay safe and healthy and keep flossing. See you soon.

Adam Vitelli, DMD
Vitelli Comprehensive Dentistry
Germantown, MD