Indian Journal of Dental Research

: 2020  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 501-

Dental practitioners and dental researchers in COVID-19

SM Balaji 
 Executive Editor, Indian Journal of Dental Research, Director & Consultant, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Balaji Dental and Craniofacial Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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

How to cite this article:
Balaji S M. Dental practitioners and dental researchers in COVID-19.Indian J Dent Res 2020;31:501-501

How to cite this URL:
Balaji S M. Dental practitioners and dental researchers in COVID-19. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 24 ];31:501-501
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Full Text

Like all medical branches, the Indian Dental fraternity has been severely impacted by the reigning COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, several doctors, including dentists acquired infection during their clinical practice.[1] There is no reliable data on the exact number of Indian dentists infected or the number of Indian dentists who unfortunately succumbed to the virus. In the initial phases of the Indian COVID-19 “lockdown” , dental clinics were shut as it was feared that aerosols generated in dental practice could fuel the spread of the virus and other factors. Indian dentists themselves reported different levels of distress.[2],[3],[4] With the spread of the pandemic, realizing the importance and need for oral health emergency requirements, strict regulations and guidelines were issued and emergency services were opened up. The exact numbers of Indian dental facilities that were closed or opened during the period are not available. This rendered calculation of the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the Indian dental fraternity nearly impossible. The economic, social and psychological impact of COVID-19 on Indian dentists and dental fraternity remains undecipherable. In spite of all the setbacks, revival of “locked” dental clinics is the immediate need to provide oral health care services as well as to ensure that dentistry survives this pandemic.

The then prevailing situation gave rise to 2 pertinent questions –

Who should receive the support of governments for dental treatment?What constitutes essential or medically necessary dental care?

The answer to these questions are mired in controversies as they are potentially ambiguous and dependent on the respondents. These answers are diverse and had been extensively debated.[5] The Indian dental policymakers need to answer these simple, yet thought-provoking questions so as to help the health policy framers to work in the best possible way.

With the nation initiating the “unlock down” procedure, the dental services and clinics resumed. This opened a plethora of problems. From the fear of acquiring infection, increased cost of sterilization/disinfection protocols to social distancing requirements to missed appointments, dentists had to face a lot of professional, social, financial, and emotional problems.[2] A latest US report indicated that the vast majority (~two thirds) of US dentists reported that their total collections are reduced to 5% of the typical. The American modeling indicated that U.S. dental care spending by the nation could reduce by up to 66% in 2020 and 32% in 2021.[6] The Indian dental landscape could not be estimated. The answer to these questions by themselves indicates a gap in policies, protocols, and practice guidelines. Indian dental researchers need to utilize this period to seek an answer to these vital, yet overlooked gaps. I call upon Indian dental researchers to formulate research questions and produce translatable research for the betterment of the oral health care delivery in India


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6Nasseh K, Vujicic M. Modeling the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. dental spending. Health Policy Institute Research Brief. American Dental Association. April 2020. Available from: [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 13].