You can have anything in life if you dress for it

Dental clinics post Covid 19

I’ve learnt a lot as a dentist over the last 20 years.

We dentists work in bio aerosol environments. Covid 19 protocols for us are as bad or as good as a Covid center where patients are being treated. The difference is, our patients aren’t even sick. They need teeth pulled. Or an abscess drained. Or a cap stuck back on. We greet them like Bubble Boys, literally cocooned in our protective suits. We hose down with hypochlorite after each case, or change protective gear between patients. Even the most carefree of us in Green Zones are wearing double or N95 masks, surgeons caps, face shields, gowns and of course gloves. When we get home, we first take off all our clothing and dump it into a detergent and chlorine solution. Then we take a “head bath” Life sure has changed.

It is so easy to preach to others, specially to kids, that one has to move with the times. So much tougher to move, oneself. It makes me furious to see the older and retired dentists who escaped this all.

Cannons to the right of them, cannons to the left of them, cannons behind them, volleyed and thundered

We’re to vacuum the air with Hepa-14 or 13 filters, to place fans behind us and exhausts in front of us and also spray one of four chemicals into the air after each patient.

We’re also to cover each patient with a PVC kit which costs about ₹500 and is to be dustbinned after they’re done.

Each patient is to rinse, and then spit, into the glass they rinsed from to avoid spatter. Then they are to neatly empty the glass into a washbasin and then ditch the glass into a bin.

Masks and head caps are mandatory. Foot covers and aprons are also mandatory. For the patient. Not us. We’re in the astronaut suit, remember?

Did I mention that we also need to fix their teeth? Oh yeah, that too.

What got me through the last 6 hours was a quote from “Maybe You Should Talk To Someone” – Lori Gottleib.

Uncertainty, I’m starting to realize, doesn’t mean the loss of hope – it means there’s possibility. I don’t know what will happen next – how potentially exciting!

The funny thing is, I’ve been afraid to hope!

All my working life, I have been inundated.

With work, by patients.

Now all of a sudden, I shouldn’t see more n’ 3 people in a day as I only have 2 dental chairs. I gotta clean, scrub and sanitize between cases. I mean, my assistant does that… while I tell the next patient what to expect in the chamber. Life ain’t so bad. This is down from days when my husband (Also a dentist) and I would see 40 people in a day! Can you imagine the Covid we’d spread if we did that now? So we spread… out… our…. cases. We cherry pick the chaps with the most pain. The ones who haven’t travelled anywhere. The ones who say “yes” when we say 100% of Dental patients in Wuhan got Covid.. are you really in that much pain?

Mind you Wuhan’s really unlucky, they got the surprise version of the test we’re preparing for.

At the time of writing this my city is still Covid-free.

We’re treating, prepping, sanitizing, diluting, spraying, boiling aldehydes to fumes and seeing if the new masks work, if they make us weep when we boil 2% Glutaraldehyde in a bowl. (they didn’t make us weep, they work!)

We’re educating patients and telling them, no pain, no treatment.

I arm twisted a tailor into tailoring caps for all of us. Assistants, patients, dentist! We’ll wear them under our surgeon’s caps, to completely cover hair.

Suddenly I feel the nuns in Sister Act had the RIGHT idea about how to do things. Hey, any of those habits available? Who made them? Anybody got the pattern? That was a cool collar… it would be way more comfy than the PPE I’m encased in.

So if any of you guys are worried,

  • first, can u still wear all your old clothes to work? Wow! So lucky, you are.

If you gotta space people out, great! Go ahead. I used to believe that a crowded waiting room made people believe I was a popular dentist. Not true. People love being one of three VIPs a day.

Life is what happens to us when we are busy making other plans.

See I really hope somebody finds a cure… yet Covid has made one of my dreams come true. People send me PHOTOS of their teeth… then I guess at what needs to be done before I do it on their appointment! If I’m wrong, I change the treatment plan on the(sanitized) dental chair. I no longer see people just to convince them what needs to be done! If they are unsure, I say, stay at home! Be safe! Only the truly needy are being treated and I Love This. For once I feel I am making a difference to pain. Every minute in the clinic is used productively.

Every workplace will change like this.

So.. there’ll be good stuff, hang in there, world. Switzerland fix yourself soon and send me Maileffer Dentsply files before I run out. Ditto Prime England Dental diamond burs. Brazil, buck up with those Gutta Perha cones. America, don’t die on me, O2 Ortho Organizer I am counting on you. Germany, where’s my AH Plus? Japan, you expect me to make my own Glass Ionomer Fuji cement? France I’m taking great care of your X-ray unit, I cover Carestream with a plastic bag when I fumigate with Glutaraldehyde. 3M where’s my P60 Visible Light Cure Resin? Japan again… my X-smart endo motor is lovely, don’t you want to sell it to my juniors? Israel, your Propex Pixi is the sweetest apex locator. C’mon world. Remember what Coco Chanel said:

You can have anything in life if you dress for it.

Get dressed. We’re going to have to go to work. Soon.

3xTop Writer. Jamshedpur, India. Dentist, mom of 2 girls, lives in a joint family, in love with the written word.