Cosmetic dentists are being massively impacted by the level-three restrictions announced by the Federal Government in a bid to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.
The new restrictions – enforced by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) – suggest that emergency-only dental work is to be carried out on patients.
The majority of dentists in Australia will be impacted and some could be permanently wiped out by the coronavirus suggests a leading Melbourne dental surgeon, Dr Yvonne King.
“There is confusion now about what is essential dental work and what’s not. Management of acute dental pain, trauma, treatment already started is allowed under these restrictions,” said Dr King, highlighting that putting off such treatment could have negative repercussions. “You can contract septicaemia, gingivitis, lose teeth, even jaw bone by putting off dental work. Your teeth need to last longer than the coronavirus and your tooth health is often related to other medical complications,” she said.
That said, Doctor King fears that even with the all-clear to practice emergency work, the patients will still stay away. To reassure customers, Doctor King is transforming her practice and taking extraordinary measures, including ditching certain lasers that might create COVID-19 aerosols and opting for hand tools and specialist lasers to clean teeth.
Similarly, Doctor Kimberly Ivett, principal dentist and owner of Sydney Boutique Dentistry, has urged her regular customers to keep their appointments for essential dental work. “If your tooth breaks, hurts or is sensitive, make an appointment. If you have any swelling or lumps or chronic ulcers or bleeding, make an appointment. If you are unsure about a filling or tooth and are worried it may become something worse, make an appointment. My job is to relieve your pain and your stress,” she said in an email to all customers.
To add insult to injury, the cost of equipment has escalated dramatically, thanks in part to a national shortage of protective gear.
“If we look at the cost of dental masks for example, they have gone from 9 cents a unit to a dollar. On top of that we have limited access to other Personal Protective Equipment like hand sanitisers, gloves, and alcohol wipes,” Doctor King said.
“A combination of fear, sky-rocketing costs, a disrupted supply and manufacturing chain, expensive and unutilised technology, and the closure of dental wholesale suppliers are creating a perfect storm which could [ruin] the industry,” said Dr King.
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