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Dentists in Italy face unemployment owing to COVID-19

Dentists in Italy face unemployment owing to COVID-19 In light of the increasing spread of SARS-CoV-2, all dental activities in Italy have been limited to the provision of urgent care. (Image: creativeneko/Shutterstock)
In light of the increasing spread of SARS-CoV-2, all dental activities in Italy have been limited to the provision of urgent care. (Image: creativeneko/Shutterstock)

Dentists in Italy face unemployment owing to COVID-19

By Iveta Ramonaite, DTI
March 27, 2020

MILAN, Italy: Italy has become the European country worst affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, its confirmed cases of infection currently reaching 74,386, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). As the country is facing a nationwide lockdown, the pandemic has completely reshaped people’s daily lives, weakened the economy and boosted unemployment rates. To minimise the risks associated with contagion and slow down the spread, the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has recently ordered the shutdown of all non-essential factories and businesses. In the meantime, some dental offices continue to operate, offering patients emergency care only.

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“It’s too early to exactly quantify the economic damage. We know that Italy, the whole country, will suffer a very significant decrease in terms of income, employment and welfare,” Linda Sanin, director of events and trade show organiser Promunidi, told Dental Tribune International. She added that, although the economic damage is mounting, the protection of people’s lives is of the utmost importance.

Illustrating the extent of the damage inflicted by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the prime minister has called the pandemic the most severe crisis since the Second World War. Similarly to other countries affected by COVID-19, Italy is experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks, and although most dental offices are well equipped to fight cross-contamination, dental professionals in Italy have been urged by the government to suspend all non-urgent appointments to limit the movement of people. The order has practically left all dental hygienists on hold, and some dentists were confused as to what exactly would constitute emergency care.

To ease the heavy economic burden arising from the pandemic, some dentists are urging the Italian national agency for social security and assistance of physicians and dentists (Ente Nazionale di Previdenza ed Assistenza dei Medici e degli Odontoiatri) to reduce members’ monthly contributions by half. The agency is a compulsory privatised pension fund for medical and dental practitioners that provides retirement and welfare benefits to its members.

Dental emergency care

The Italian Society of Periodontology and Implantology (SIdP) recommends that patients only access dental care if their appointments cannot be deferred. The extent and immediacy of the dental emergency should be assessed on the phone by the attending dentist. Some examples of dental emergencies of an urgent nature, as identified by SIdP, include acute pain, infections such as a gingival abscess, and trauma. However, if the patient is at greater risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, shows symptoms or signs attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infection, or is in quarantine, the treatment should be postponed to a later time.

Preliminary assessment of the appropriateness of the provision of emergency care should include enquiring whether the patient has any symptoms or signs of infection, such as fever, a cold, a cough or difficulty breathing. Additionally, it should be determined whether the patient has been in contact with people with any of these symptoms or signs in the last 14 days and whether the patient has come from a high-risk area outside the national territory. In such cases, the SIdP recommends that all dental treatments should be postponed and the patient should be encouraged to contact his or her doctor and be asked to self-quarantine.

Needless to say, both patients and dental staff are required to follow strict cross-infection prevention guidelines during emergency dental care visits.

Expodental Meeting postponed to September

Expodental Meeting is the biggest dental event in Italy. The international exhibition was originally scheduled for 14–16 May, but safety concerns prompted the organiser to postpone the event to 17–19 September.

UNIDI, the Italian Dental Industry Association, has been the owner and organiser of Expodental Meeting since 1969. An official announcement on the meeting’s home page stated that, owing to the COVID-19 crisis, the general public alarm and the strict governmental restrictions, UNIDI has decided to postpone Expodental Meeting in order to safeguard exhibitors’ and visitors’ health. The event will still take place in Rimini on the new dates.

Making the best of a bad situation

According to Patrizia Gatto, publishing and event manager at Dental Tribune Italy, in a time of reduced professional activities, it is instrumental for dental professionals to stay in contact with their patients. This could be achieved by posting short videos or offering tips for maintaining optimal daily oral health at home. Additionally, if possible, dental professionals should use the time of professional inactivity to embark on continuing professional development opportunities via e-learning platforms, such as the DT Study Club.

More information about Expodental Meeting can be found here.

By 26 March, there had been 74,386 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Italy and 7,505 associated deaths, according to WHO.

  1. Dr Anil Kumar Grover says:

    Appeals.,yet …Most important aerosols are known to hang in for plus two hours and over and above that too ‘ can’t be said to be sterile’ . Use of high vac suction , hepafilters and adherence to standard infection control protocol is must.
    Further multi central trial with prior approval from Ethnic Committee and Pharmaco- vigilance might be needed.

  2. Dr. AMIT KUMAR PATHAK says:

    Seems to be a good idea, but my concern is towards its use in pediatric patient or patients with poor motor control where they might swallow the solution, which may lead to several discomforts. Also on a long run, constant inhalation by doctors and the team is of concern.

  3. Dr Jyothsna V Setty says:

    The action of Povidone iodine on virus in 10% concentration that to when used as irrigation
    agent is highly questionable. Moreover patient may cough , sneeze. It should be remembered that all the secretions contain virus. This suggestion if accepted without evidence of dental environment totally getting free of covid19 will definitely be disastrous

  4. The best evidence to date suggests that the virus load in saliva and the nose is reduced markedly for between 20 and 200 minutes by PVP-I mouthwash for one minute and spray up each nostril. Research is underway to see how long exactly. It means that the risk of transmission to the HCW is reduced for long enough to examine the patient and to undertake relatively rapid procedures.

  5. Dr Chandrakant Sarangkar says:

    Time will tale us the correct solution
    May be china have been discovered it and will force the world to use it
    But don’t use china things boycott them this should be our future moto
    Use of iodine and it’s concentration it’s side effects on instruments ,on our body and on patients tooth should be checked

  6. Manjunath says:

    It’s a good idea.But what should be the contact period of iodine solution for virucidal action..Does iodine solution aerosol will kill virus..

  7. Really a much needed study & thought has been rolled on. We shud try to start conducting further studies on the efficacy of this pvp solution at various dental institutes level.
    Regarding the effect of it on composites I think dental enchant or dentin conditioner shud be sufficient to wipe away the effect of pvp in the prepared cavities??

  8. It is pressurized air that is the problem ! New evidence is that the infected patients is shedding virus even when speaking, breathing & coughing! Rate of multiplication of virus is very high! Rapid suction with filter designed for the room & mouth may offer a good solution along with PPE! Povid iodine could be added to this! Dentists are at very high risk !

  9. Dr. Ritesh Shekhar Shetty says:

    Please share literature of any research stating that 10 percent dilution of povidone iodine is sufficient for killing most of the virus and especially Corona virus?

  10. Dr Anjali Sukthanker says:

    Seems a good option….but need a study on the constant inhalation and exposure of the dental surgeon to Povidone iodine in the long run.

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