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The COVID-19 pandemic has been raging on strong for just over a year, and many areas of the healthcare industry have become overwhelmed, backed up, or been put on the back burner to accommodate all the ill patients. Things such as elective surgeries, minor health care needs, and mental health services have all been placed lower on the priority list than they usually are because of the virus's spread.
Oral health has also suffered negatively from the pandemic. With lockdowns and non-essential health care procedures being pushed aside in the name of safety measures and slowing transmission, those that may have been due for regular check-ups or in need of minor dental procedures were unable to receive that type of care.
Hard Hit Areas And Oral Health DiseaseSome areas in the world have been affected by the global pandemic more than others. The United States, where there have been over 31 million cases to date, was among the countries hit hardest by the virus. In contrast, places such as Iceland, New Zealand, and Australia have all seen markedly lower cases.
Differences in the management of the virus and population density all played a role in how the pandemic thrived in each area. Research has shown that in the United States, areas of the country most affected by COVID-19 were also areas that have been at higher risk for oral diseases.
This correlation is likely due to unexpected circumstances such as reduced hours and, in some cases, full dental office closures, the placing of limits on providing oral health care unless in an emergency, and the limited provision of or complete elimination of preventative care services. Since many dental procedures, even routine cleanings, generate aerosols that can lead to an increase in viral transmission, dentistry procedures were put on hold to avoid community spread in areas where it had already gotten out of control.
The Oral Health Decline Driven By COVID-19The demographics that have suffered the most during the pandemic regarding both the virus and an increased risk of developing oral diseases include minority groups, those in low socioeconomic groups, older adults, those without insurance, and those in rural areas. Otherwise healthy individuals outside of this demographic have suffered a decline in oral health too.
Research from Wuhan has shown that oral health decline has hit the population in the area hard because of the inability to receive routine dental care over the last year. Compared to other regions of China, Wuhan had less access to dental care, meaning people were more likely to experience common oral problems such as gingival bleeding, bad breath, and oral ulcers.
There has also been an increase in oral-related issues that stem from stress or anxiety caused by the pandemic. Dental professionals have noticed that the incidence rate of cracked or damaged teeth since the onset of the pandemic has risen significantly. This is likely due to teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching, both actions linked by the onset of severe or significant psychological stress. Other reports of cracked molars and damaged fillings that caused abscesses have also been seen by many dentists. The likely reason being stress combined with a lack of access to and maintenance of oral care.
Poor Oral Health And COVID-19 PrevalenceWhen examining the link between COVID-19 patients and oral diseases, it is clear that without adequate dental care, those with already existing oral health issues were more at risk of developing a severe case of the viral infection than those with healthy mouths.
In considering the connection between the two and the lack of access to oral health care during the pandemic, it is possible to conclude that having a better route to preventing and improving oral disease could also positively affect patients with COVID-19. More research into the matter is required to verify this conclusion, though.
Is There A Way Out Of The Dental Health Decline?
If bad oral health can cause the viral infection to worsen in some people and the pandemic itself is causing oral health to deteriorate, many people and dental professionals find themselves in a catch 22 situation. The only way out is to ensure that patients are aware of just how important oral health is and what they can do at home to keep it up to par while everyone rides out the remaining time of the global pandemic.
 "Oral Health and COVID-19: Increasing the Need for ... - CDC." https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2020/20_0266.htm. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.
 "Impact of COVID-19 on the oral health of adults in ... - BMC Oral Health." 26 Mar. 2021, https://bmcoralhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12903-021-01533-z. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.
 "Dentists say they're seeing more cracked teeth due to pandemic ...." 8 Sep. 2020, https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/teeth-are-taking-a-beating-dentists-say-cracked-teeth-are-more-common-post-lockdown-1.5096518. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.
 "Association between periodontitis and ...." https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcpe.13435. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.
How Dental Practices Can Learn Marketing From Other IndustriesAs consumer behavior continuously evolves, effective marketing has become more imperative. Business owners, including dental practitioners, must ensure that they reach their customers the right way.
A 2017 study revealed that 3.5 billion people worldwide suffer from oral health diseases, meaning that there is a broad market for dental practices. If they market effectively, bringing in new patients will become an easy task.
Marketing is an essential element for dental practices that wish to stay ahead of their competitors. However, devising marketing models and strategies that work can be an uphill task for many.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel in order to run successful marketing campaigns. It is possible to learn from other industries and adopt strategies that are known to be effective.
The Personalization Tactics Of Real Estate Entrepreneurs And Sales RepsReal estate investors and agents are some of the most creative marketers presently. The nature of their business—selling high-ticket products—pushes them to seek out and implement emerging marketing trends.
The year 2020 saw a rise in the use of personalization marketing because of the social distancing policies. Businesses needed to stay connected with their customers even with little to no physical contact. The response rate of personalized messages is three times higher than standard marketing.
Personalization ensures that dental practices meet the unique choices and needs of each patient. It gives patients a positive experience by showing that the dental care provider understands their personality and wants.
Patients usually expect to enjoy personalized interactions and services from their healthcare providers, meaning that adopting this strategy for marketing can give dental practices a competitive advantage. A 2021 report shows that 80% of consumers prefer to patronize a business that offers personalized experiences. Plus, companies that use the personalization tactic can increase revenue by up to 15%.
Also, 44% of consumers will most likely become repeat buyers after enjoying personalized services. Dental practices can explore various channels, including paid adverts, emails, text messages, and so forth, while using personalization as a marketing tool.
Personalization can be deployed effectively with the help of variable data. For instance, dental practices can take advantage of variable data to customize different direct mail elements to match each recipient's persona. These may include using the recipient's name, address, and even special offers—such as a family package—which can be unique and tailored to their needs.
Since the driving force of personalization is data, dental practices should obtain as much data as possible from their patients. These include patients' names, ages, dates of birth, occupations, how many children they have, how often they book and the nature of their appointments (routine or emergency), and the treatment plans they choose.
With the help of such data, dental practices can create personalized messages, offers, and marketing campaigns that suit the individual needs of their patients. Therefore, dental offices must ensure that they meticulously document patients' data in an organized database.
Personalization is vital for rendering tailor-made services and maintaining good customer relationships; thus, dental practices should apply this strategy to achieve better results.
Local Listing And Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Strategy Of Small Business OwnersStatistics show that 60% of American adults search for local services using their smartphones and tablets. This means that patients will most likely carry out local searches on search engines while looking for a dentist.
Since most dental practices serve people within their locality, one of the most effective ways to attract customers is by signing up on local listing platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, CitySearch, etc. Registering on these platforms will help dental practices boost local SEO and give them a better chance of appearing on search engine result pages.
For instance, the Google algorithm ranks local search above organic search results. Dental practices must create detailed profiles about their clinics to attract local leads to their businesses. These details include the official business name, correct address, office hours, specialities, photos, and website URL.
The information must be up to date and relevant to the audience. Research shows that 78% of local searches result in offline purchases; therefore, dental practices can adopt this marketing technique to increase their ROI.
The Review System Of eCommerce BrandsDental practices can use reviews to gather opinions and feedback about their products and services—whether good or bad. They can achieve this by directing customers to their websites, listing platforms, and social media pages to publish reviews and testimonials.
Reviews influence 93% of consumers' buying decisions. They help consumers determine the quality of a product or service by reading or listening to previous buyers' experience.
To this effect, dental practices must ensure that they have excellent reviews. Statistics indicate that consumers are willing to spend 31% more on a product or service with positive reports. Dental practices can attract more patients if they have a reviews system in place.
The main aim of running a business is to generate profit, and the only way to do this is to reach the best audience. This is achievable through effective marketing strategies. Dental practices can learn and implement adapted battle-tested strategies from other industries to drive more revenue for their business.
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 "eCommerce Personalization: 2021 Complete Guide | Bloomreach." https://www.bloomreach.com/en/blog/2017/08/ecommerce-personalization.html. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.
 "How Personalization in Digital Marketing Increases ROI - Spectrm." 15 Jul. 2020, https://spectrm.io/insights/blog/how-personalization-in-digital-marketing-improves-conversion-rates-increases-roi/. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.
 "The 2017 State of Personalization Report - Segment." http://grow.segment.com/Segment-2017-Personalization-Report.pdf. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.
 "What Is Local SEO & Why Local Search Is Important." 26 Dec. 2018, https://www.searchenginejournal.com/local-seo/what-is-local-seo-why-local-search-is-important/. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.
 "White Paper Purpose & Audience (Purdue OWL)." https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/professional_technical_writing/white_papers/index.html. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.
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 "The Importance Of Online Customer Reviews [Infographic] - Invesp." https://www.invespcro.com/blog/the-importance-of-online-customer-reviews-infographic/. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.
Have you ever noticed a lightly discolored “pink spot” on a tooth and wondered what it was? You are looking at lesions that occur either internally or externally due to a resorptive process that results in significant loss of tooth structure.
Have you ever laid the patient back, started your examination, and then noticed a tooth that just didn’t look right? You might even question what your eyes are seeing. Does that tooth look pink?
During an examination, dental hygienists may notice what seems to be a lightly discolored pink spot located at the cervical region of a tooth or even found in the crown showing through (figure 1). In both locations, this appearance, or “pink spot,” has to do with granulation tissue present underneath the enamel.
These pink spots are destructive and often insidious types of lesions that can occur either internally or externally on the tooth, resulting in significant loss of tooth structure. Both lesions have to do with a resorptive process that is occurring—often trauma-induced. When you discover these lesions, you can break down the resorptive processes based on their location: external or internal.
When it comes to providing the highest quality oral care and promoting infection control in the practice, the sterilization of all dental instruments is paramount.1 All sterilization processes should consist of three types of monitoring to ensure the procedure has been fully carried out: mechanical, biological, and chemical. Mechanical monitoring indicates that the machinery is operating at the correct temperature, for the specified time, at the proper pressure. This information should be recorded for every load of instruments sterilized.2 Despite the quick turnover of dental instruments, biological monitoring or spore testing is only required weekly, but may be required more frequently if you are accredited through the Joint Commission or are sterilizing an implantable device.3 Chemical indicators are essential because they make it possible for us to confirm that instruments have gone through the sterilization process between biological monitoring. But do all dental professionals fully understand them and give them the attention they deserve?
The COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe with ease, hitting every continent in no time at all. As the cases rose, government officials began implementing tactics to slow the spread of the virus. Those tactics included social distancing, staying home unless absolutely necessary, and widespread lockdowns in the most hard-hit areas. When lockdowns were in effect, only essential services remained open to serve the public. One sector deemed nonessential and forced to close was dentistry, but as dental professionals know, oral health is just as important as any other form of health.1
1/1/2021 0 Comments
With modern advances in technology, many industries are seeing a change in how they operate. Certain concepts that many could not have fathomed in years prior are now becoming realities for medical professionals everywhere. In the case of dentistry, innovation has brought a myriad of positive changes that can help advance oral health management and the way people access dental care.
Teledentistry is one such area that has seen an increase in demand due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the technological advancements that have made it possible. Although the idea of teledentistry is not new, it can help provide contactless care in an otherwise hands-on profession. With this increased availability of technology suitable for use in dentistry comes new ways to utilize tools such as intraoral cameras and processes that can help drive the overall betterment of oral health for our patients.
Thoroughly and properly cleaning dental instruments and equipment is critical to patient care. Contaminated dental instruments can lead to disease in otherwise healthy individuals and leave a dental practice reeling from the aftermath.1 Prior to the use of technologically advanced cleaners, many dentists and staff had to clean their instruments by hand. This has changed with engineering controls such as the ultrasonic bath cleaner.2
The ultrasonic cleaner is without a doubt a step-up in sterilization practices and helps avoid potential cross contamination and percutaneous injuries from hand scrubbing. There is more to ultrasonic cleaning than meets the eye though; it requires more than turning the dial, listening for the vibrations, and hoping it is working.
This dental team member is frustrated about her dentist-boss not taking COVID-19 seriously. She feels the team and patients are not receiving the protection they deserve because of his nonchalance. What can she do? Author - India R. Chance, BSDH, RDH Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH
10/19/2020 0 Comments
As types of infections and risks evolve, so do the methods of containment and control. But one thing will stay the same—the hierarchy of hazard controls. Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH, explains how to implement these infection controls in your practice.
Dental hygienists have the opportunity to integrate oral health into overall health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, prevention of oral disease becomes even more essential in maintaining systemic health.