Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

: 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 4502--4503

Fighting the COVID-19 challenge—Public health dentist's perspective

Ridhima Gaunkar, Vinita Sanjeevan, Vinayak Kamath, Akshatha Gadiyar, Amita Kenkre Kamat 
 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Goa Dental College and Hospital, Bambolim, Goa, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ridhima Gaunkar
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Goa Dental College and Hospital, Bambolim, Goa

How to cite this article:
Gaunkar R, Sanjeevan V, Kamath V, Gadiyar A, Kamat AK. Fighting the COVID-19 challenge—Public health dentist's perspective.J Family Med Prim Care 2020;9:4502-4503

How to cite this URL:
Gaunkar R, Sanjeevan V, Kamath V, Gadiyar A, Kamat AK. Fighting the COVID-19 challenge—Public health dentist's perspective. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 May 13 ];9:4502-4503
Available from:

Full Text

Dear Editor,

Dentists worldwide are exercising caution and limiting their practice to keep the transmission of the coronavirus at bay. This letter is an insight into the possible contributions of a Public Health Dentist to the present pandemic.

There is a general consensus amongst members of the dental fraternity on the need to triage patients and accept only emergencies for clinical management. Hence, present day scenario demands more than ever that people be educated on the importance of oral health. Programs to create awareness amongst students, teachers, communities can be conducted virtually. Short films with relevant information can be circulated on television.

We can identify scientific literature that is credible [1] and translate it to comprehendible layman terms which can be made accessible to common man. We can also create an organized source of peer reviewed scientific literature for the dental fraternity.[2] In times of infodemics, this can be a significant contribution.

Tele dentistry can also be used in assessment of patients. However, expecting all the patients to have access to the internet may also be unrealistic. Ensuring safety of patients personal space and information is critical when virtual platform is being used.[3]

While emergency care is being provided by dentists, subjecting our vulnerable population (elderly above 60 years and children below 10 years) who seek such emergency care to dental visits carries its own risks. The mobile dental van may be used as means to reach such populations. The van may be thereafter disinfected following prescribed protocol.

The lockdown that India witnessed, cut access of people to cigarette and other tobacco products. One to one personalized tobacco counseling may have taken a back seat, but it is our moral duty to follow up and support patients as they go into a forced action phase. A dedicated helpline number should be advertised and made available to all such patients seeking care. Time is of essence to influence policy makers and stakeholders to redesign and enforce strict implementation of legislation regarding production, usage, consumption, and public spitting of tobacco products.

While dental students continue classes through the virtual medium, efforts can be made to help students appreciate concepts of disease transmission, pandemic, and to appreciate the public health efforts taken worldwide to combat the pandemic. Didactic classes can be helpful.[4]

It may be early to conclusively state that oral health symptoms could be early indicators of COVID-19; however, dentists can associate symptoms of dry mouth and amblygeustia with other symptoms and a COVID history to identify possible suspects.[5] Possibility of saliva as a diagnostic aid and presence of viral binding sites in the oral cavity should also be researched.

Finally, dentists can support the frontline medical teams by contribute to pre-screening and triaging of patients, recording case history, management of infection control in hospital facilities, post discharge counseling, etc.


Public health dentist can contribute significantly to combating this pandemic. We only need to explore and innovate.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Guo J, Wu H, Xie H. Letter to the Editor: How to deal with suspended oral treatment during the COVID-19 epidemic. J Dent Res 2020. doi: 10.1177/0022034520920169.
2Keepanaserril A, Janakiram C, Venkitachalam R, Karthikeyan M, Sanjeevan V, Vineetha K, et al. COVID evidence for dentists [Internet]. Available from:
3Villa A, Sankar V, Shiboski C. Tele (oral) medicine: A new approach during the COVID-19 crisis. Oral Dis. 2020. doi: 10.1111/odi. 13364.
4Iyer P, Aziz K, Ojcius DM. Impact of COVID-19 on dental education in the United States. J Dent Educ 2020;84:718-22.
5Chen L, Zhao J, Peng J, Li X, Deng X, Geng Z, et al. Detection of 2019-nCoV in saliva and characterization of oral symptoms in COVID-19 patients. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network; 2020. Report No.: ID 3556665. Available from: