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December 1, 2020

Dentists see corona an opportunity to bring about reforms

Lahore

December 1, 2020

LAHORE : The dentists around the world see Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to rethink the future of dentistry and address system-level failures.

They have stressed that along with the second wave of Coronavirus there should come another wave of scientific discovery and innovation.

UK’s Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (RCPS), Glasgow, Vice President (Dental), Dr Andrew Edwards, while addressing at the closing ceremony of a three-day virtual international dental conference here at the University of Health Sciences (UHS), on Monday, said that rather than being isolated and separated from mainstream healthcare, this crisis had clearly shown that dental professionals could be integrated into the wider system. “The challenge ahead is to delineate the clinical roles of dental personnel in a more integrated model of care”, Dr Andrew opined. He added that the dentists had a substantial effect in supporting health service delivery during the pandemic and had, therefore, developed new skills and clinical knowledge in the process.

While sharing the experience of the RCPS, Dr Andrew Edwards said that during the pandemic examinations and education packages were moved to online platforms with a hybrid approach which allowed greater international participation. The theme of the conference was “Redefining Trends in Dentistry” and it was the first virtual conference organised by UHS. Speakers from the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, Palestine, Hong Kong, Turkey, France and Pakistan presented the papers in the conference.

Queen Mary University, London, professor of oral biology, Professor Paul Anderson said the Covid-19 pandemic had exacerbated socioeconomic inequalities and would undoubtedly worsen oral health inequalities. He was of the view that dental care systems now needed to be more responsive to the needs of their local populations and prioritise care for groups with a high need for care, such as low-income, marginalised, and vulnerable groups, including those with multiple morbidities. Dalhousie University, Canada, assistant professor of periodontology, Dr Nader Hamdan held that current restrictions on aerosol-generating procedures provided an opportunity to re-orientate dental care towards a less invasive and more preventive approach, one in which the dental team worked in partnership to tackle the shared risks for oral diseases and other non-communicable diseases.

“This is also a time to stop delivering unnecessary and ineffective treatments. A perfect example of this is the routine provision of tooth scaling and polishing, a procedure that does not have an evidence base and is a costly waste of resources”, Dr Nader Hamdan stressed.

University of Glasgow, UK, Head of School of Education, Professor Margery McMahon said that radical reform of oral health-care systems would require brave and bold decision making from professional leaders. She added that there had been a paradigm shift in how universities and professional organisations were led and how they organised themselves to deliver world-leading research, excellence in learning and teaching and positive experience for students. King’s College London, professor of orthodontics, Professor Martyn Cobourne was of the view that though the field of remote orthodontics had expanded significantly in recent times, the Covid-19 pandemic had further highlighted the role tele-dentistry could play in delivery of patient care whilst adhering to high professional standards.

Guy’s Hospital London, Chair and Professor of Oral Surgery, Professor Tara Renton said that there were a host of serious diseases and conditions linked to oral health, including cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, certain cancers, and also pregnancy complications. She held that the impact on overall health, coupled with a track record of safely providing care throughout the pandemic, was why the dentists should be allowed to continue treating patients, even in the event of future pandemic-related shutdowns. Al-Quds University, Ramallah, Palestine, lecturer at periodontology, Dr Ghassan Habash said that routine care was often preventive care and it was extremely important in helping to avoid oral infections and diseases, which could impact a person’s quality of life. He added that the pandemic had proven that it was time for dentistry to be recognised as a form of essential healthcare.

UHS Vice-Chancellor Professor Javed Akram said that the Covid-19 pandemic had posed many challenges for the scientific community, and among them was how to drive science and medicine forward while sheltering at home.

“Yet, the crisis itself highlights the urgent need for sharing scientific insights to overcome the many diseases that threaten humanity. Therefore, we must rise to the current challenge and utilise new virtual interfaces to stimulate the next wave of scientific innovations. We cannot afford to delay the exchange of scientific information, waiting for this pandemic to pass”, he added. Professor Javed Akram said the in-person international dental conference was cancelled a few days before its hosting at the UHS, leading the varsity to employ a virtual platform to continue the conference as scheduled.

“It has been a success. Hundreds of professionals around the world attended this online conference where 26 national and international speakers presented their papers. It was the first Pakistani online dental conference with registered foreign dental delegates”, he apprised the participants. The conference secretary, UHS Oral Biology department’s head, Dr Sara Ghafoor said that it was the first dental moot that had credit hours approved nationally as well as internationally.

The Turkish Dental Association and Sri Lankan Dental Association had also given their consent to approve CPD hours for their international online delegates, she added. Dr Sara Ghafoor said that it was for the first time in any Pakistani dental conference that an international collaborative workshop was organised in Palestine.