Chairman's Letter: Sometimes there’s nowhere to look but ahead

June 1, 2020

MJH Life Sciences Chairman Mike Hennessy Sr. looks to the past to find a path through today's challenges to meet an exciting future.

The spring of 2020 is one no one in dentistry is ever going to forget, even though I imagine most of us would like to chuck it in the bin and ask for a mulligan. But now we’re approaching the middle of the year and the start of summer, and while dentists are back to caring for patients, things are definitely different.

Our present situation is hardly full of comfort and stability, but it’s critical for us to be here now for patients with oral care needs, and for the dental professionals employed in practices as well. For many practices, the present reality includes a constant scramble to find suitable PPE while we adjust to new practice workflows and new safety precautions for clinicians and patients alike.

But as always, our past informs our present, and long before the coronavirus pandemic upended the world, the dental industry was experienced in asepsis practices and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Infection control is a part of the everyday operations of dental practices, as clinicians are used to disinfecting surfaces between patients, properly cleaning and sterilizing instruments and equipment, and practicing dentistry while wearing PPE.

While there might be some extra steps while cleaning practice areas, and there are certainly some extra layers of PPE on most clinicians, the concepts are not new, and for the most part, practice operations are not hindered by new infection control guidelines as much as by shortages of PPE supplies and social distancing recommendations that limit the number of patients a practice can schedule in a day.

So while past training has practices ready to meet even the unexpected challenges of the present, what you do now is setting you and your practice up for the future. Are you in regular communication with patients? Are you explaining all the things you’re doing to keep them safe while in your practice? Are you looking at what investments you can make in your practice now so you’re ready with new services when practices ramp back up to full speed once again?

The future is always an unwritten page, but text to fill it is based on the present, which of course, is built from the framework of the past. So, while this cycle is certainly one way to look at what we’re experiencing during this pandemic, it’s also a great lens to explore dental products and to size up what’s likely coming next. That’s exactly what we do in this issue’s cover story, Past, Present, Future. The article looks at the current state-of-the art products in different areas of dentistry, while also showing how far we’ve come, and where things look to be headed.

We solicited input from clinicians and researchers from throughout the industry to build a picture of what the present really looks like on the cutting edge of dentistry. The coming future might be amazing, but the present is awesome as well. We hope this article helps showcase how much is already available to the dental industry today, as the technologies, materials, and services dental practices have at their disposal are ready to make dental care faster, safer, and easier for clinicians and patients alike.

Of course, this issue isn’t only about looking back to find the way forward. We also present data from our 2020 Materials Survey where we asked you what types of materials you prefer to use, how many you keep in stock, and how you evaluate new material options prior to bringing them into your practice.

But to return to the present, we also continue our special report on Dentistry During COVID-19, with new features examining what’s being done differently as practices reopen, strategies for getting patients back on your schedule, and managing to bring your team back on board after furloughs and shutdowns.

There seems to be some light ahead for the dental industry as the wave of reopening ripples across the country. The lessons from the shutdowns were hard ones to have to learn, but they’ve put the industry in a stronger position today, where we’re set up for an even brighter future. •

- Mike Hennessy, Sr.

Mike Hennessy, Sr. is chairman and founder of DPR’s parent company, MJH Life Sciences.

 

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