BRUSSELS, Belgium: More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, its seismic impact on different elements of the dental profession is becoming clearer. In order to find out how it affected the workflows of periodontists and dental hygienists, the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) launched a survey back in May 2020 that invited these specialists to share their experiences. The EFP has now unveiled the preliminary findings of its investigation, and more detailed analysis will be published in the coming months.
The survey was made accessible through the EFP’s website, and a total of 798 periodontists and 337 dental hygienists participated. Questions covered a range of topics including changes to clinical protocols, prioritisation of treatment, precautionary measures being taken and the respondents’ opinions on the potential long-term economic consequences of the pandemic.
According to the association, 91% of periodontists reported having adapted their clinical protocols since the pandemic began, and 46% stated that they were no longer providing implant treatment during this time. Of these respondents, 82% said that they continued to offer supportive periodontal therapy (SPT), and of those who did not do so, more than half offered telephonic support to affected patients. Looking forward, 36% of periodontists agreed that approaches to periodontal treatment would need to be rethought in order to decrease the risk of contagion for patients and healthcare workers. More than half said that they anticipated that relationships with patients would change in the future, and 48% of these believe that patients will need to be reassured regarding the safety of periodontal procedures.
Among the dental hygienists surveyed, 94% said that their clinical protocols had changed owing to COVID-19, and four in five reported that they measured the body temperature of patients prior to treatment. Meanwhile, 86% stated that they interviewed or examined patients regarding potential SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Overall, 3% of respondents reported that they had been infected with SARS-CoV-2.
“Our survey clearly indicates how quickly the periodontal community adapted to the pandemic while still managing to deliver proper treatment with safety maximised for their teams, their patients and themselves,” Prof. Filippo Graziani, chair of the EFP European Project Committee, told DTI.
Further in-depth analysis of the survey results is set to appear in the next issue of the EFP’s magazine Perio Insight, the association noted.