J Korean Acad Oral Health 2020; 44(2): 65-66
Published online June 30, 2020 https://doi.org/10.11149/jkaoh.2020.44.2.65
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Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Korean Academy of Oral Health
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The first case of COVID-19 in Korea was reported on January 19, 20201) and since then, our lives have changed significantly. However, during the last six months, we have learnt to accept these changes.
The guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, highlighted the need for social distancing. A report explained the importance of social distancing by using the following example: if an infected person does not practice social distancing, 406 people will get infected within a span of 30 days; however, by reducing one’s activity by 50% and 75%, the number of infected people would reduce to 15 and 2.5, respectively2).
Many experts have predicted that our lives will never return to the way they were, before COVID-19. Thus, it is time that we give due consideration to the measures required for the effective management of oral health.
Oral health professionals are at a high risk of infection, since oral care characteristically requires the treatment to be performed in proximity of within 18 inches of a patient, and significantly exposes a practitioner to a patient’s respiratory droplets. This necessitates a more stringent compliance with infection control guidelines, than in the past. This is probably a positive change brought about by COVID-19.
However, there are some concerns regarding the delivery of oral care services. Currently, there is an increased tendency to postpone regular dental check-ups or treatments. It is highly plausible that this could worsen the oral health of the medico-dentally vulnerable population due to lack of timely treatment or proper preventive care.
Therefore, in our field, it is necessary to educate the general public regarding the importance of oral care and provide them with easily accessible and accurate information. Considering that public or group education, as in the past, will no longer be possible for the time being; and in the near future, it may be best to provide information using smart devices and through teledentistry. These will enable effective patient counseling that eventually will become the main focus of patient care. I think we should prepare for the post COVID-19 life through efforts such as reorganizing existing information and establishing new systems to adapt to the upcoming challenges.
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