The COVID-19 pandemic and Dentistry: The Clinical, Legal and Economic consequences. Part I: Clinical.

Paul Coulthard, Peter Thomson, Manas Dave, Francesca Coulthard, Noha Seoudi, Mike Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus which causes COVID-19, is highly contagious. Dentistry is a high-risk profession for occupational virus transmission because of the close proximity of the operator to the patient during treatment and the procedural generation of aerosols.

The impact on the provision of dental care has been profound with routine care restricted or paused for a period around the world. There have been adverse consequences for dental education and clinical research. Emergency and urgent care provisions have generally proceeded. However, even when a patients’ condition is deemed urgent, access to the appropriate care may not have been possible due to lack of the recommended personal protective equipment. The common dental diseases of caries and periodontitis usually present with signs and symptoms after some advancement, hence the recommended regular dental examination so that these may be diagnosed early by a professional with suitable lighting, instruments and radiography. Conditions such as oral cancer similarly presents in its early stages without symptoms. Many countries introduced telephone and video consultations for patients with symptoms but much disease has gone undiagnosed and without management.

It is difficult to ascertain the full effect of the disruption to dental services, education and research but it is likely to be substantial. The immediate future will focus on return to routine care provision with likely longer-term permanent changes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Mar 2020


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