Frustration and Hope

Dentistry Today

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As we finish the first quarter of 2021, things are somewhat better. We all waited for 2020 to end and couldn’t wait to be here. Surely, many people have been vaccinated, but at a rate far slower than we were hoping. There are still many who want to “wait and see,” while others don’t trust the vaccine at all. Hopefully, they are all still following basic common-sense guidelines (eg, mask use and social distancing). The return to “normal” is still a work in progress. In my practice, we are finding that patients are not as anxious about receiving care (their underlying dental anxiety notwithstanding), and staff concerns and changes are stabilizing. Many of my colleagues actually reported an increase in their productivity, partly due to busier schedules due to the backlog and, unfortunately, overdue treatment that has gotten worse in many cases, especially with periodontal maintenance patients. Those little “watches” from early 2020 and, in fact, late 2019, have blossomed. Some patients are back to work, with income and benefits restored, while others are still in limbo. There are many small business owners who are still not back, if they survived at all. A small bright spot is the large number of patients who are now working remotely from home. With more flexible schedules, many don’t have to come in for the first or last appointment of the day. Manufacturers have been rolling out new products at a rapid pace—many of the 2020 launches were postponed until now, while the 2021 products are also hitting the marketplace. I have seen several new restorative materials, electronic devices, and impressive new software and techniques in the CAD/CAM arena. We will be showcasing these advances throughout the year with authors who have had a chance to use these in everyday practice and can show us their practicality. This issue covers a lot of ground, starting with our cover author, Dr. Paola Ochoa, who solves a common dilemma of matching crowns, veneers, and natural teeth. The other contributions include helping a young girl, as well as 2 young men, gain self-esteem; discussions on implant planning; a unique grafting technique; teledentistry; and an interesting look at an endodontic file design and a canal-shaping technique. In addition, Dr. Gary Kaye gives us a peek at artificial intelligence in dentistry, which has spawned a whole new area on our website (dentistrytoday.com). Take a look. As I have noted before, I encourage you to send us ideas and new content that will be helpful and interesting to our peers.

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