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In Journal of the American Dental Association (1939)

BACKGROUND : Pandemics have significantly modified our societal behaviour over the millennia, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

TYPES OF ARTICLES REVIEWED : In this article, the authors review the history of pandemics, the probable reasons for their emergence, and the COVID-19 pandemic due to the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants, as well as its possible impact on dentistry during the postpandemic period.

RESULTS : There are multiple reasons why catastrophic pandemics occur due to new infectious organisms that cross the species barrier from animals to humans. These include, population explosion, mass migration, and prolonged survival of debilitated and susceptible cohorts on various immunosuppressants. Coupled with global warming and the resultant loss of habitats, such vicissitudes of humans and nature lead to microbes evolving and mutating at an exponential pace, paving the way for pandemics. The contemporary epidemics and pandemics beginning with the HIV pandemic have modulated dentistry beyond recognition, now with assiduous and robust infection control measures in place.

CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS : Because COVID-19 may become an endemic disease, particularly due to emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants the dental community should adopt modified infection control measures, teledentistry, and point-of-care diagnostics, among other measures. It is likely, that clinical ecosystems in future would be rendered even safer by predicting how pathogens evolve and priming the human immune system for the next wave of microbial combatants through vaccines produced using deep mutational scanning in which artificial intelligence and machine learning can predict the next variants even before their arrival.

Samaranayake Lakshman, Fakhruddin Kausar Sadia

2021-Nov-05

Pandemics, future, impact, oral health care, past, present