The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dental practice in Brazil
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Introduction: Dentists are at high risk of contamination by COVID-19 due to the proximity to the patients' oral cavity and airways. Objective: To elucidate the behaviors and adversities experienced by dentists because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This descriptive study invited 1.811 dentists affiliated with professional associations, dental cooperatives, and health insurance providers from São Paulo State, Brazil, in 2020 of which 473 agreed to participate. The data collection, using Google Forms, included the variables: sociodemographic conditions; characteristics of dental work; level of healthcare and sources of information about the pandemic; changes in the work process, financial impact with personal protective equipment (PPE) and biosafety measures; and consequences of the pandemic in the professional practice. Results: The 473 dentists (40.36±13.44 years), were mostly women (52.22%), had a specialty (55.60%), and were self-employed professionals (73.36%). It was observed that 78.01% of professionals had a reduction in their monthly income. The average of patients treated daily decreased by 35.48%. It was found that 30.44% of professionals had difficulty with the use of PPE, 3.59% contracted COVID-19, and 53.03% decided to postpone the appointment if the patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 sought treatment, even in emergencies. The use of high-speed handpieces was reported by most professionals (n=428; 90.48%). Conclusion: Behaviors: dentists used PPE and assigned very high or high levels of precaution about COVID-19. Adversities: dentists reported an increase in operating costs, changes in the work process, a decrease in appointments, and a reduction in the monthly income.
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