Digital screenings, PPE and no waiting rooms — how COVID-19 is changing dentistry

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Dentistry clinics, like many businesses, shut down operations in mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic took hold of Canada.

Two months later, they are wrestling with how to reopen and stay safe — Natalie Archer included.

“It’s going to be a gamechanger for dentistry,” said the Toronto-based dentist. “Everything is going to be slow. A slow, steady, deliberate approach.”

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Being health-care professionals, the move to shut down clinics concerned some dentists. Many continued to perform emergency procedures, but the vast majority of services were halted.

“There’s no social distancing in dentistry,” Archer said, especially when the virus spreads easily from mouths and noses.

But with reopening somewhere on the horizon in Ontario, accessing the safety equipment needed is the newest challenge.

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The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) has been a battle in Canada. It forced health-care workers to ration equipment, resanitize items for reuse and, in some cases, depend on homemade items.

When the fight first ramped up, dentists were some of the first to donate their stock of PPE to those on the front line,

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