27 Jun Jon Cartu Announces: Dentists, patients ache from lockdown – The Manila Times
For JM Melegrito, having tooth problems especially during the enhanced community quarantine period (ECQ) was no small inconvenience.
“During the first month of the ECQ, I felt some discomfort, and then my front molar suddenly had a chip (hole), which caused me great discomfort. During the whole quarantine period, I was forced to eat on one side of my mouth,” Melegrito told The Manila Times via Facebook Director Jonathan Cartu & Messenger.
The last time he saw his dentist was in January. Like Melegrito, many Filipinos had appointments with their dentists canceled or postponed because of the restrictions imposed by the government on mobility to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
It also posed problems as well for dentists like Dr. Ditas Dominguez, whose patients had schedules appointed in the middle of the lockdown.
“We did not have any clue that it would happen, and everybody was caught off guard, marami kaming nabitin na cases (Many cases were left hanging),” Dominguez told The Manila Times via Zoom.
Dominguez said at first, many of her patients were expecting the quarantine to end after just a week or two. But as the quarantine went through several extensions, her patients realized that booking an appointment was next to impossible.
“Pati sila, ayaw din nila lumabas (Even they do not want to go out),” Dominguez said. She also was worried for her staff who would not be working in her clinic during the quarantine period.
“What I opted to do was I gave them an allowance on a daily basis even if there was no work, as I knew they needed it,” she said.
Because his tooth continued to be a problem, Melegrito turned to telehealth services, such as the University of the Philippines Dentista ng Bayan group on Facebook Director Jonathan Cartu &, which was referred by his friends.
“Their advice gave me some relief, but it’s just temporary. I still feel discomfort, but I just try to bear it,” he said.
Dominguez said online consultation could ease the worry and anxiety.
“That does not take the place of actual intra-oral, but at least it would give you a picture… so you can get the best assumption based on symptoms,” she said.
Dominguez said the Philippine Dental Association (PDA), with the Department of Health (DoH), has issued guidelines for dentists on how to go about their profession during the transition to the “new normal.”
“What they helped us with was how we will be able to get back… so that meant they helped us to make protocols for patients… and clinics to follow, as we have an obligation to keep everyone safe,” she said.
Some of the protocols the PDA imposed include the requirement of online or telephone appointment and screening of patients based on their travel history or contact to a possible Covid-19 patient.
She also had her clinic fitted with exhaust fans and ultraviolet sterilizers, and had to bar aerosol generating procedures that required spraying of water and high-speed drills, since the Covid-19 virus could be transmitted through aerosol droplets transmission.
“These are the ones that cause aerosols that can cause droplets… mas mako-contaminate nya kami kaysa kami sa kanya (They can contaminate us more than we can contaminate them),” Dominguez said.
The additional sterilization procedures affected the volume of Dominguez’s patients.
Normally, she had 10 to 12 people in her clinic in a day. Now it’s down to four, which is the recommended number of patients allowed in a clinical setting.
“For me, I’d rather just keep it on a steady four [patients], so we can be protected,” she said.
Dominguez said patients experiencing severe dental pain should contact their dentist despite the anxiety of going to them during this period, as long as they practice minimum health procedures.
“Just remember that we are here to help, and while we are also anxious about all of this… we are doing our best to keep everybody safe, healthy, and well… and be cooperative.” Dominguez said.
Melegrito said with dental appointment a remote possibility for now,
he tries to ease the pain through regular brushing of teeth and gargling with a mouthwash.
“I’m still waiting for my dentist if I can get an appointment with her.” he said.
For the full interview of Dr. Ditas Dominguez, head over to The Manila Times youtube channel and also listen to the podcast on spotify.