Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2020  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 167--168

COVID-19—Future of dentistry

SM Balaji 
 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, Teynampet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. S M Balaji
Executive Editor, Indian Journal of Dental Research, Director and Consultant, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, 30, KB Dasan Road, Teynampet, Chennai - 600 018, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Balaji S M. COVID-19—Future of dentistry.Indian J Dent Res 2020;31:167-168

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Balaji S M. COVID-19—Future of dentistry. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Sep 17 ];31:167-168
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Full Text

The current novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) better known as COVID-19 has affected dental practice, like all other medical and non-medical services. This strain is similar to the SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). It is zoonotic, with Chinese horseshoe bats being the origin with pangolins as a probable intermediate host. The patient 0 was probably in a wet market in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Following this single animal-to-human transmission, the COVID-19 has been spread by human-to-human contact. The interpersonal contact occurs via respiratory droplets and contact transmission. The role of fecal-oral transmission, aerosols spread, through fomites, or vertical transmission is yet to be confirmed. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients spread the disease, but the latter may act as super spreaders, as they do not have symptoms and remain active in the community. The incubation period of COVID-19 is reported to be about 5–6 days on average. Current evidence of this to be as long as 14 days have been reported and this is widely used as cut off days for medical observation and quarantine.[1]

Due to the inherent characteristics of dental settings and aerosol involvement, the risk of cross-infection could be high between dental practitioners and patients.[2],[3] As of the writing of this editorial, there has been guidance and order on the cessation of all procedures that could give rise to aerosols.

Dental practices and hospitals in India, as we have a sizable number of COVID-19 patients and several hotspots, most of the operation has been closed. Only emergency and urgency cases are taken up. Even in such cases, strict and effective infection control protocols are to be followed.[3]

It should be borne in mind that the virus and its math is novel—meaning we do not know the natural history of the disease, immune reaction, and the mechanism. In this situation prevention through absolute barriers is the only way we can recommend with confidence. The biggest question in a dental fraternity is “What next?”. Several organizations and specialty societies are coming out with protocols and guidelines based on present scientific pieces of evidence.[3],[4] However, there are newer insights into the COVID19 virus emerging daily. This gives an unprecedented opportunity for the dental community to understand the human oral microbiome, drug interaction, oral immunology, and evidence-based practice. Also, in other spheres, this disruption enables us to revisit our infection control and sterilization protocols, practice and research ethics, emergency protocols, teledentistry, cost-effectiveness as well as economic analysis of dental practice management. The opportunity has engaged the internet to the maximum. Most of the dental schools have shifted to online/distance mode teaching, using all novel methods of teacher-student interactions. All such disruptions will help to innovate and bring new models and opportunities. Such ideas and thought processes need to be validated by research and evidence. I hope our Indian dental community will seize the opportunity and emerge successful, as in the past.[5]

I am sure that in days to come, humanity will emerge successfully as in the past. The most important thing is that how and what we learn from this pandemic episode—as individuals, as dentists, and as dental researchers.


1Meng L, Hua F, Bian Z. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Emerging and future challenges for dental and oral medicine. J Dent Res 2020:22034520914246. doi: 10.1177/0022034520914246.
2Dave M, Seoudi N, Coulthard P. Urgent dental care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet 2020. pii: S0140-6736 (20) 30806-0. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736 (20) 30806-0.
3Martelli-Júnior H, Machado RA, Martelli DRB, Coletta RD. Dental journals and coronavirus disease (COVID-19): A current view. Oral Oncol 2020:104664. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology. 2020.104664.
4Farooq I, Ali S. COVID-19 outbreak and its monetary implications for dental practices, hospitals and healthcare workers. Postgrad Med J 2020. pii: postgradmedj-2020-137781. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-137781.
5Balaji SM. Dental research: Present to future. Indian J Dent Res 2013;24:651-2.