Welcome back—a post-lockdown update from the president
In the past four months, the global economy has suffered the unprecedented impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and the dental industry in particular has been one of the most severely affected. We have seen an almost total loss of turnover for dental businesses in many countries, and only now are we seeing the first green shoots of recovery. It remains a fragile situation, and without a vaccine, we are treading a fine line with local lockdowns due to regional outbreaks of the virus and the spectre of a potential second wave this autumn.
In all European countries, routine dental practice ceased in March and treatments were restricted to emergencies only. The dental profession still ranks highest among the professions that have the greatest risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. When I recently visited my dentist to have a 35-year-old glass ionomer filling replaced, he apologised for having to wear the same level of protection to perform this aerosol-generating procedure (AGP) as one would for a patient with Ebola. In addition to wearing FFP3 masks and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs), the practice team conducted a lengthy questionnaire to assess my possible risk of exposure to the virus and carried out a 40-minute deep clean of the surgery before I arrived and after I left. The air conditioning was turned off because of the AGP risk, and I was swelteringly hot in a T-shirt, so I can only imagine how the dentist and nurse felt wearing several layers of moisture-resistant PPE, full-face and hooded PAPRs and so on.
For practitioners in the autumn of their career, this may simply be too much, and some have confided recently that they are planning early retirement. For those that remain and for the clinicians of the future, dentistry has changed, and we cannot go back. How should we respond when our entire business landscape changes?
“The ADDE remains there to support you through this journey as we emerge from lockdown and restructure our businesses”
COVID-19 has naturally accelerated the adoption of digital technology inside and outside the dental office. We have seen the rise of e-learning in the lockdown period, and with all physical dental shows postponed until the end of this year or next year, we are seeing the emergence of virtual shows. COVID-19 has made us question whether we really need to physically attend meetings. The merging of the digital supply chain with channels to market has also accelerated and presents both a challenge and opportunity to traditional dental dealers. On-the-road sales teams are being redeployed to digital support and sales, which many consider a more efficient and cost-effective use of resources.
The ADDE remains there to support you through this journey as we emerge from lockdown and restructure our businesses. We recently cooperated with other associations to successfully lobby the European Commission for a delay in the implementation of the new medical device regulation. We have excellent resources available online through our new website, www.adde.info, and LinkedIn and Facebook pages. We have been running support webinars and Q & A sessions online for members and will continue to do so. We will be with you every step of the way and help wherever we can.
I would also like to introduce you to Dr Pavel Smažík, who was recently appointed vice president of the ADDE. He is a dentist by education and an entrepreneur by attitude. In the early 1990s, Pavel founded Dentamed, which became a true market leader in the Czech Republic under his guidance. Recently, he stepped back from all operational activities at Dentamed and now acts as chairman of the company’s board and manager for mergers and acquisitions in central and eastern Europe at European Dental Partners. Pavel is also the chairman of Czechdent, the Czech dental trade association, and has been active in the European dental business as a board member of the ADDE for several years.
President of the ADDE