While it’s easy to reflect on all the turmoil that the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) brought to us personally and professionally, it’s important—especially at this time of year—to count our blessings. Even during difficult times, we all have things to be thankful for. Take a quick peek at just 5 things the dental industry has to be thankful for, some of which are constants and some of which came out of 2020, a year that will always be synonymous with a pandemic.
When the pandemic mandated dental practices shut down to all but emergency care for several weeks this fall, the industry was hit hard, with employees being furloughed and let go and dentists and dental labs having to rethink their finances and budgets for the year. But rather than panic, the industry pulled together in a variety of ways. Dental practices donated PPE to hospitals, manufacturers stepped up to improve technology and PPE, and anyone and everyone with a 3D printer or a heart of gold offered time, energy and innovation to help do all they could during a very trying time.
By now, much has been written about how risky jobs like dental assistants, lab technicians and dental hygienists—as well as the clinicians themselves—are during COVID-19. While there were some concerns early on, especially when shortages of PPE were widespread, dental healthcare providers and front desk staff have resumed their duties and we are all thankful for that. It hasn’t been easy, what with new protocols, higher anxiety among patients, rescheduling hassles brought on by the shutdowns, but dental team members have proven their worth, dedication and there’s no question now about just how essential they all are.
None of us could have survived 2020 without some help. When the pandemic first hit and uncertainty was running rampant, the ADA was quick to provide guidelines to assist dentists during a pandemic. The CDC, OSHA, FDA, EPA, state dental boards and OSAP all played critical roles at a time when many of us had questions and needed the information and the answers to come from reliable sources. So thanks has to go out to a number of agencies, organizations, and groups that provided proper guidance for dental practices.
When offices were closed and financial concerns grew, many clinicians used their new free time to improve their organizational skills and to pick up some education to help them once the practices did reopen. They did indeed re-open and so we’re all very thankful to have dental healthcare providers and dental labs back open and busy, and thankful for all the patients who have returned safely to the offices to keep on top of their oral health.
It took plenty of teamwork to tackle the many obstacles 2020 has thrown our way. Looking back at some of the developments this past year, you can’t help but thank technologies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that have not only allowed us to stay in touch with one another during a pandemic, but also set up the frameworks for future virtual meetings and product demonstrations that will allow dentists and lab techs to teach and learn from one another from around the globe. During these tough times we’ve also witnessed the ADA, the Small Business Administration, banks, dental CPAs, and financial advisors all doing their parts, whether it be mandating safety regulations, offering low-interest loans, or financial guidance on how best to reduce costs, cut staff, and even advice on possible opportunities in terms of retirement accounts and taxable income brought about by this unusual economic and health pandemic.
It was a trying year at times, but the industry does have plenty to be thankful for.