“The number of patients have come down drastically. Except for emergency procedures, we have not seen any patients with follow up treatment or routine procedures till now. Earlier, the dental clinics were not allowed to function. But now, people are hesitating to visit dentists. Several dental clinics remain closed even now,” said Dr S Navaneethan, consultant and anaesthetist at Apollo Whites Dental Clinic.
The fear of getting infected is also among the medical fraternity, with many older dentists preferring online consultations due to risk of infection. “In our clinic, we are seeing only about 20 per cent of what we used to have. Only young doctors are on duty, while many others have not even started consultations. The patients are scared, and we too are not encouraging them to visit dental clinics at this point because a large number of doctors in the State have also tested positive. We are suggesting dental investigations and primary treatment over e-consultation to avoid physical contact. The patients are coming in mostly for emergency procedures,” said Dr Nanda Kumar, dental surgeon at Fortis Malar Hospital.
Experts added that undertaking dental procedures amid the pandemic required additional safety measures and preventive efforts, thus increasing the expenses for the clinics.
A senior doctor from Balaji Dental College and Hospital pointed out that private clinics need to be disinfected after each patient visit. “We need to do fogging after each patient visit. The rooms have to be cleaned and properly maintained. Also, dentists need to wear personal protective equipment. All this adds to the expenses to the dental clinics. Thus, we prefer to check fewer patients,” said the doctor.