Orthodontic Practice in the Times of COVID-19 Pandemic: An Online Survey
Postgraduate Student, Department of Orthodontics, Faculty of Dental Sciences,
SGT University, Gurgaon-122505, Haryana, India.
Introduction: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is not the first one which the globe has faced but never came across a health crisis that moved so quickly across continents. COVID-19 outbreak presently posed a very serious threat to the existence of mankind on earth. The massive impact of COVID-19 pandemic was evident in all aspects of life-personal, social as well as professional. The field of dentistry including orthodontics was no exception to this.
Aim: To describe the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on orthodontic practice, exploring the basic sterilisation protocols being followed during COVID-19 pandemic and to predict the future of orthodontics in post-COVID era.
Materials and Methods: The Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Faculty of Dental Sciences, SGT University, Gurugram, Haryana, India, conducted this questionnaire based cross-sectional survey in May 2020 over a time span of 20 days. A web-based questionnaire of 15 multiple choice questions in English was created as a Google Form in Google Documents. The link to this form was shared online with the orthodontists and postgraduate students (Orthodontics) of dental colleges situated in the National Capital Region (NCR) through WhatsApp groups and e-mails. A total of 254 responses were received.
Results: A 97.6% of respondents agreed that COVID-19 affected their orthodontic practice. The odds ratio between those not likely to resume practice and those likely to resume practice taking educational qualification as the significant predictor was calculated to be 8.976 at 95% confidence intervals. There was wide variation in the selection of the safety protocols by the orthodontists in the present study (p<0.01). Increased digitalisation in orthodontics (45.7%) followed by less demand of orthodontic treatment (18.5%) were opted as the future in post-COVID era (p<0.01).
Conclusion: The present survey found that orthodontic community as a whole was affected greatly by COVID-19 pandemic and is quite apprehensive. The future of orthodontics in the post-COVID era is unpredictable presently. Digitalisation in orthodontics is the key option to have minimum physical contact with the patients. The study suggested the need and importance of basic sterilisation protocols and a training program for dental settings during COVID-19 for patientâ€™s as well as clinician's safety.