Yesterday, many Australian business wished themselves a happy new year and contemplated the big question on every business owners lips “What does normal look like post lock down” Is normal when I can get on an aeroplane without Government permission and go anywhere I want to and not spend any time in quarantine when I get there or return? Or, at the other extreme perhaps, do I accept that everyday is the new normal and I have to be adaptable and agile to whatever is in front of me.
I think it is more the later than the former but probably with a quarterly approach rather than a daily approach. The challenge right now is that there are two pieces of conflicting information out there.
The first is from US research but anecdotally and reported on in Australian media is that about half of adults reported they or a family member skipped dental and medical visits due to COVID-19 in a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), despite a surge of people leaving home more frequently to shop, visit family, and work.
“Dental care was the most likely to be skipped or postponed, followed by regular check-ups or physical exams,” according to the research.
The second is that practices are re-opening or have re-opened for all or some dental procedures. Those that opened weeks ago have seen patient volumes tick up each week, with some reporting close to business as usual. This is a good sign, but real recovery will hinge on whether patients keep returning to their dental chairs or just visited to regain a sense of normalcy.
So, what is it? Patients returning for normalcy or cancelations? The reality I suspect is a bit of both patients are returning but the practices are not at normal levels yet. Patients are still wary of catching covid, more so than any other communicable disease and have concerns from an economic perspective as a consequence of how concerned they are about their job security and/or their incomes returning to pre covid levels. One opportunity, I see for the oral health professional coming from the pandemic is to become more focused on being the physician of the mouth and having a more biological approach. Dr Alvin Danenberg, DDS, writing for DrBicuspid wrote the following .
“The reality is that our underlying health concerns come from three key stastics that show 60% of adults have a chronic disease,1 70% of deaths are caused by a chronic disease,2 and 72% of our population is overweight.3 The events of COVID-19 painfully and abruptly have shown medical professionals and the general public that we must take proactive measures to ensure a healthier body going forward. A physiologically unhealthy body cannot fight infections. An unhealthy body will continue to succumb to viruses and other pathogens.
We have become aware that underlying health conditions are mostly a result of poor lifestyle choices and indulgent dietary habits. If we want to honor longevity and secure a future without chronic disease, then we must make changes. We must become educated about what to do. We must become proactive in our own health. We must be taught about healthier lifestyle choices and foods to eat as well as not to eat. The government won’t do it. Pills won’t do it. Improved insurance coverage won’t do it”
He continued that “The role of biological dentists is to comprehend the importance of a strong immune system for oral health and overall well-being. Well-educated dentists understand that nutrition is critical for cells to function properly. They know that every cell in
the body can communicate with every other cell in the body. Biologically trained dentists realize that the mouth is a mirror of systemic health as well as systemic disease. Because dentists see many of their patients at least twice a year, they have the continuous opportunity to monitor a patient’s overall health and influence that patient’s self-care.”
In summary Dr Danenberg wrote “As patients become educated about health, longevity, and a robust immune system, they will demand healthcare professionals to guide them in their decisions. A properly trained biological dentist is the ideal health professional to have an in-depth conversation with the patient to help achieve these goals. The biological dentist understands the interrelationships between the mouth and the rest of the body. Biological dentists can assist patients with developing a healthy diet, a healthy gut, a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy immune system. All will lead to a healthy mouth, which is the purview of the biological dentist.”
Being a physician of the mouth, incorporating tele-dentistry, a topic I wrote on recently, could be the new normal for the oral health professional.
Good news this week for all those people who place value on intellectual property. The Dental Solutions Company announced that on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, in a ruling by Judge Joseph F. Bataillon, held that EdgeTaper Encore endodontic files sold by US Endodontics and Edge Endo infringe at least three valid claims of patents asserted by Dentsply Sirona Inc. Judge Bataillon granted Dentsply Sirona’s motion for summary judgment that each of the three patent claims were infringed by EdgeTaper Encore and that Dentsply Sirona’s three patent claims are valid.
Edge Endo which is majority owned by Henry Schein has been doing its best to establish itself around the world as the same but a less expensive alternative to the market leader. The industry is already aware that the materials used to manufacture the products are not the same and now it would look like that the reason they have been able to design a file with similar features is that they have infringed the patents held by a competitor.
I would encourage all Oral Health Professionals to purchase products from trusted brands and to understand, like patients understand, that if the price is too good to be true when the product or service is purported to be the same there is a high probability that you are not comparing apples with apples.
Thank you for your support in June and in the financial year 19-20. We wish your business every success in the new financial year and look forward to continuing to partner with you to help you to deliver the best possible care.