Love And Fear: The Life Of A Dentist During A Global Pandemic

In March, the first case of Coronavirus was reported in Brazil. The new and dangerous virus was spreading very quickly across the whole globe, and we knew so little about it. So, the best choice was closing everything but hospitals and essential services, like pharmacies, supermarkets, and banks. Alongside the temporary closing of several businesses, we were advised to stay at home and leave only when extremely necessary. Because of this radical change, establishments started reinventing themselves by deliveries and e-commerce.

But, while brushing your teeth, you might ask: “What about the dentists? How are they working? Are they a part of the essential services?”. Sílvia Pupo Mucha, a 47-year-old dentist from Jundiaí, can answer those questions and share with us more about her experience.After twenty-three years working as a dentist and five as an orthodontist, Dr. Sílvia said that she had always followed the required safety protocols. But, since Covid-19 was still a mystery, she decided to stop working for two weeks and only assisted patients with urgent matters. While at home, she dedicated her time to watching webinars about the new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and learning more about the new disease. “It was terrible. We didn’t know how the virus spreads and how we should protect ourselves”, she said. A woman wearing an apron Photo by Júlia Pupo At her private clinic, the safety measures were intensified. Besides cleaning every single piece of equipment to ensure her and her patients’ safety, Dr. Sílvia also started scheduling appointments with an hour of spacing and asking if the patient have had contact with someone infected, or had some of the common Coronavirus symptoms. Alongside these changes, the price of the PPEs was increasing, and the clientele was decreasing. “Some of my older patients were afraid to come in for treatment, but I tried to reassure them that I was following every single measure so they could feel safe”, she explained. However, the patients were not the only ones that were feeling unsafe. Dr. Sílvia herself said that in the beginning, she was afraid, but after learning about the safety measures, she felt more secure.

Another place where she had to change her behavior has at home where she lives with her husband and her two daughters “I leave my shoes at the doorstep, wash my hands, change my clothes, and, sometimes, have a bath”. Even though she loves hugs and kisses, and has already taken the vaccine, she is still apprehensive to do so. “Since they didn’t take their shots yet, I am afraid that in an oversight, they can be infected and have severe symptoms”, she said.

A red toothbrush Photo by Alex from Unsplash Things started to look a bit brighter when, on February, 25, she took her first shot of the Chinese vaccine: Coronavac. But even after her second dose, on March 3rd, she admitted still having serious concerns “I’m more relieved, but not safe. I don’t know if my patients are following the social distancing like I am. I fear what they do outside of the clinic”.

From an outsider’s perspective, like ours, this lifestyle seems pretty rough and difficult to maintain, but Dr. Silvia thinks otherwise: “We can’t be lazy. We are all tired of this, but getting the disease is worse”. Continuing her confession, she said: “If I was afraid to work I would have closed the clinic, but I can’t. It’s my life. I love doing what I do, it’s my therapy”.

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The article above was edited by Rafaela Bertolini.

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