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The coronavirus pandemic is spreading rapidly throughout the world. As of April 6, Brazil was Latin America’s worst hit country with over 11,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and almost 500 death, according to the latest statistics published by the Johns Hopkins University. In a recent interview, Dr. Irineu Gregnanin Pedron, a key opinion leader in dentistry from São Paulo, spoke with Dental Tribune International about how the crisis has affected his work as a dentist.
Dr. Pedron, what is the situation in your country in face of the SARS-CoV-2 crisis? What measures have been taken, and when were these put into place?
Here in Brazil, we have lived in voluntary social isolation for the last two weeks. There are political disagreements between the federal and state governments regarding isolation, but I believe that the vast majority of the Brazilian population has been adapting to the confinement restrictions. In the next weeks (30 March to 12 April), it has been forecast that there will be the greatest number of deaths so far in our country as a result of the disease. So, it is even more so essential to avoid social contact in the next weeks.
How have the confinement measures affected you professionally and personally? Is your office still open or, if closed, since when?
My private clinic has been closed for two weeks. I work there with my father and brother, as well as with other dentists. At the dental school of Universidade Brasil, we are teaching undergraduate courses and activities online. Personally, I am trying to take advantage of this time to maintain psychological and emotional balance.
Now that your office is closed for routine treatment, are you doing anything differently when treating your (emergency) patients compared with when it is open?
Unfortunately, we are not able to attend to patients at all. Some patients have contacted us with possible emergencies, such as detachment of a temporary prosthesis, but because most people are staying home and the recommendations are to avoid social contact as much as possible, we are advising patients by telephone and advising them to go to the emergency room at the hospital when there are no other possibilities for alleviating their problem.
“We should take advantage of this moment to reflect, develop ideas, create future projects, improve climate changes, bring optimism to those around us and try to influence people for a better future after COVID-19”
During this crisis, how have you utilized your time in your work situation and in relation to your patients? Could you share a little about your personal life and the effect on the things you enjoy and usually have little time to do?
In addition to the teaching activity already mentioned, which I am continuing online, I have also dedicated myself to my studies. I have used this time mainly to write scientific articles.
Do you know how the confinement measures have affected the national dental market?
Unfortunately, the crisis is affecting all segments. Dentists are not able to work and provide care to patients. They are not providing care and, therefore, have no income and do not consume products. Consequently, dental suppliers are affected and are not selling their goods. At the dental school of Universidade Brasil, students have been forced to take their classes online in order to continue their studies. This is a new way of teaching and studying to which universities have had little time to adjust in the current situation. They are doing their best to adapt and provide the same quality of education that they could with students studying on campus. Unfortunately, many people are losing their jobs and being laid off.
No one knows how long this crisis will last. Whether it is short-lived or lengthy, do you think that it will change your business and the profession as a whole?
In my opinion, the crisis will be short. Perhaps our recovery time here in Brazil will take longer. Crises bring a need for renewal, change and growth. We should take advantage of this moment to reflect, develop ideas, create future projects, improve climate changes, bring optimism to those around us and try to influence people for a better future after COVID-19.
One might hope that, in face of such a crisis, it would be appropriate to reflect and maybe change the way we live our lives for the better. What do you think? What changes would you like to see happening?
I have seen with this crisis that the average human being seems to be more concerned with others, seems to be less selfish and more altruistic. This voluntary adherence to social confinement measures is proof of this. The vast majority of people are staying home and doing their share to try to prevent the spread of the virus. I believe that this crisis will have an important role in changing social, health and human habits. Are we going to take advantage of this crisis? I certainly hope so.
Dr. Irineu Gregnanin Pedron is a specialist in periodontics and implantology. He is an independent researcher and lecturer at the dental school of Universidade Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil. He teaches a botulinum toxin course in dentistry at Bottoxindent Institute, São Paulo, and is the author of the Portuguese book Toxina Botulínica: Aplicações em Odontologia (Editora Ponto, 2016).
Editorial note: This interview is the second part of a series asking dental professionals all over the world to share their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis.