The ‘New Normal’?

Damon Adams, DDS


As we arrive into the beginning of autumn with this issue of Dentistry Today, the dental landscape certainly looks different. All of the big meetings, including the Greater New York Dental Meeting, have been rescheduled, canceled, or taken into a virtual format. Lecturers have seen their in-person teaching calendar meet the same fate. It is still not a smooth ride for the majority of dental health professionals who are continuing to adjust their practices in so many previously unforeseen ways. Our academic colleagues, in the universities that are open, are moving forward with diverse plans to teach the next generation of dental professionals during a unique and extremely challenging time. Our dental technicians will also continue to deal with the possibility of a lower workload for the foreseeable future as their doctors rethink what will be prescribed for patients and when due to budget constraints as a result of the post-shutdown economy. Dental manufacturers also have to continue working to meet the formidable challenges facing the industry and to stay profitable in the midst of uncertainty as the end of the year approaches and critical planning for 2021 begins.

To make current and future planning decisions even more daunting for all in the dental industry, lingering issues around the SARS CoV-2 viral pandemic have been made more complicated and uncertain by the upcoming elections in a highly polarized and politicized atmosphere. Well, despite all the complications, economic challenges, social distancing (though “physical” distancing would have been my preference for this term in an age of high-tech virtual connection), personal or other encounters with illness, executive orders, new business and infection control regulations, loss of personal freedoms, and the creation of still more political and social barriers/divisions, I am here to tell you that I, for one, will never accept our current state of affairs as the so-called “new normal.” And, in my opinion, neither should any of you! Once we accept and buy into this mental state of a “new normal,” then we own it, and it will indeed become manifest. The human race is extremely adaptable and has been able to overcome dramatic challenges with innovative solutions. Through many a crisis, we managed to keep our mission, principles, freedoms, and core values mostly intact. Why should this time be any different? Stay strong and remember that only 7 months ago, most of us did not live in fear of dying from a virus despite the fact that multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and a litany of other active respiratory diseases (despite vaccines and proven therapies) take millions of lives worldwide every single year. We tend to lose all sense of perspective and sense of what else may be going on when our survival instincts kick into high gear! And, unfortunately for the public health, this is one way that exaggerated, irrational, and delusional fear can spread and take hold; this, in turn, can lead to widespread mass psychosis, paranoia, depression, distrust, misinformation, manipulation, and a host of other negative conditions and emotions.

It is time that we all begin to anticipate and visualize a “return to normal.” Remember, there was a time not long ago when we actually dared to go outdoors into the fresh air and to socialize as we chose without the irrational fear of the myriad of events (not only viral) that could, in the blink of an eye, dramatically alter our lives or even end them. In fact, it was only about 5 months ago when public policies on wearing masks were not considered as a required safety precaution, even though, logically thinking, we were historically in the continual presence of a number of widespread deadly viruses and bacteria, all well-designed to infect yet another human host.

So ask yourself, as a member of the community of life who fully realizes that we have an inevitable end coming to our relatively short lives, “Will living in constant and overwhelming fear be my ‘new normal’ for my time left on this earth?” It is clearly a choice that we all have to make. Look into your own hearts and minds, and make the decision with much thought because this is not just about us in the here and now. Why? Our future generations will be shaped by our beliefs and decisions as well as by the collective leadership, strength, character, understanding, and love that we show and share right now.

We hope that you enjoy and benefit from this issue of Dentistry Today!

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