Important Days in December!
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We have come to the fag end of an exhaustive 2020 but as oral health care professionals, we still have 4 days to look forward to in December!

World AIDS Day – 1st December

Every year, on the first day of December, the world observes World AIDS Day. People across the globe unite to show some kind of support for people living with HIV and those who have died from AIDS.

World AIDS Day was the first observed as an international day for global health in 1988. Then every year onwards, various agencies/ societies of the United Nations , and global governments came together to campaign around themes related to HIV.

Various activities to be conducted during this month are as follows:

  • Awareness and educating activities take place across the world.
  • Individuals wear a red ribbon which is the universal symbol of awareness/support for HIV people.
  • Specific societies or agencies serve and raise funds for people living with HIV.

Oral Health and AIDS

American Dental Association recommends proper dental care plan for HIV positive people. AIDS infected people are more susceptible to dental infections, which in turn affects their overall health.

People with HIV may experience these dental issues:

  • Thrush 
  • Oral hairy leukoplakia
  • Dry mouth
  • Gingivitis or periodontitis
  • Kaposi’s Sarcoma
  • Herpes simplex viral infection
  • Oral ulcers

Top methods to prevent these dental issues are as follows:

  • Regular dental appointments.
  • Brush/floss your teeth twice a day.
  • Take your HIV medicine on schedule. If any of your medicine causes dry mouth please consult your dentist immediately.

International Day Of People With Disabilities – 3rd December

International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) is celebrated on 3rd December all across the globe. Its main objective is to increase community awareness and recognition of people with disabilities, and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

Every year United Nation announces a new theme for International Day of People with Disability. This theme gives a principal focus on how society can hustle for inclusivity , through the removal of physical or technological barriers for people with disability. International Day of Disabled Persons was first celebrated in 1992.

Few key points to remember specially this year post Covid-19:

  • Disability is a part of the human race.
  • WHO distinguishes that a world where all people attain the highest possible standard of health and well-being is only possible if health systems are inclusive of disabled people.
  • People with disability have been amongst the most vulnerable populations during the current COVID-19 outbreak due to many health, social or environmental blockades and inaccessible set-up.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to build better health systems so that they are more inclusive and receptive to the needs of disabled people.

Dental concern for disabled people

  • A low-sugar diet is important because they are more receptive to dental decay due to problems with brushing.
  • Small or medium sized toothbrush with soft bristles is usually recommended.
  • There are special handgrips and other versions which can be fitted to manual toothbrushes to make them easier to hold.
  • Electric/ Power toothbrushes are recommended for people with mobility problems.
  • It is also helpful if the dental team know about any anxiety which patient has. This information can be given by the patient's care taker or by patient itself.
  • Dentist should know about the patient's medical history as well as the name of the specialized doctor for any medical background of the patient like any allergies/medical condition or recent operation.

National Hand Hygiene Awareness Week (6th – 12th December)

Personal hygiene begins and ends with our hands. Though we are taught as children to wash our hands before every meal, it’s important to remember that germs don’t care what time of day it is.

National Handwashing Awareness Week Timeline

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Hand hygiene is a broad-spectrum term that applies to:

  1. Routine hand washing with water and plain soap and water
  2. Washing with water and an antimicrobial soap
  3. Cleaning hands with an antiseptic alcohol-based hand rub
  4. Surgical antisepsis

Efficacy of Hand Hygiene Preparations in Reducing Bacteria:

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Various activities done during this awareness week are as follows:

  • Always remember these five steps: Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry
  • Do it in a right way: Experts recommend washing your hands with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Four ideologies of hand hygiene awareness week are:
  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating;
  2. Do not cough into hands;
  3. Do not sneeze into hands
  4. Don't put your fingers in your mouth, nose and eyes.

National Dentist’s Day, India – 24th December

24th December has been declared as a “National Dentist’s Day” by Indian Dental Association (IDA) on January 17th, 2016 because this day coincides with the birth anniversary of Padmabhushan Dr Rafiuddin Ahmed (Father of Modern Dentistry, India). Various oral health awareness programs are conducted on this day among the public. Such programs helps in educating public about the importance of a dentist to keep their oral health in a good condition. The core purpose of celebrating this day is to show appreciation towards dentistry

Contribution of a dentist includes:

  • Promoting regular dental checkups at least twice a year
  • Promoting ideal ways of brushing and flossing (good oral health)
  • Prevention of various oral diseases
  • Diagnosis of various oral disease like oral cancer and other tooth related disorders
  • Restoring good oral health

COVID-IFIED FUTURE OF DENTISTRY!

The outbreak of COVID-19 quickly accelerated into a worldwide pandemic, making it a global health and economic crisis. Risk of cross infection between a dentist and a patient can be very high because transmission occurs primarily through droplet spread/contact routes.

No one knows the future. But there is a lot of assumption about what the future holds for dentistry till the pandemic continues.

Dental treatments are costing more as dentist are following few strict protocols such as:

  • Using PPE (personal protective equipment) kits for every patient
  • Sanitizing the whole area after every patient using disinfectants
  • Autoclaving instruments
  • Increased usage of rubber dams or high speed evacuation
  • Fumigating rooms after every patient

And obviously, the costs will be transferred on to the patient (bitter truth).

Informal checks suggest that nearly 70% of dental clinics at present don’t follow the most basic sterilization protocols. If some of these practitioners choose to compromise on the quality of PPE or sterilization protocol, the resulting impact on public health will be catastrophic.

Dentistry in general is missing innovation and a healthy competitive spirit at the graduate level. There is a persistent need for privatization and globalization of dentistry, which will bring in a healthy dose of aggressiveness, agility and exposure to cutting-edge technology and latest research. Dental industry must have an active regulatory authority that sporadically evaluates all dental clinics for various protocols, including expertise and exposure to the latest in dental and hygienic practicing conditions.

As a dentist, one should make few skillful changes in their lifestyles so that you should master your online branding game strong, thereby standing out amongst the crowd. Few handy tips are:

  1. Start collecting & documenting reviews/testimonials from patients
  2. You should ensure that every patient who is happy with the treatment, leaves with a documented review/testimonial on platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram or Linked.in.
  3. Start building emailing list: As a rule, you should include the e-mail ids of your patients.
  4. Personal Blog: You can easily start a blog on WordPress. This will not only help you to put your thoughts in words, but will also put you ‘out there’.

Conclusion

In all possibilities, the virus will stay with us. Few marked changes can be observed such as less travel, reduced smoking, increased use of pneumococcal vaccines, higher online sales/ food ordering, increased online courses, social distancing and the list goes on.

Renowned public health researcher, Peter Daszak and his team have discovered that there are around 5,000 coronavirus strains globally waiting to be seen in bats. We are probably looking at a future where pandemics and epidemics become a part of life. As health professionals, its our responsibility to prepare people for this new reality.

Along with that, let us keep up a positive spirit and and pick up small ways of quiet celebration or observation and remembering people and events related to healthcare on such important days in a month!

Dr Rashi Sharma
Dr Rashi Sharma, MDS (Oral pathology & Microbiology), Studied MDS at Sudha Rustagi dental college Greater Faridabad, Working as editor for journal JCDR .

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