It was recently reported that 2020 was such a tumultuous year that the editors of the Oxford-English dictionary were unable to determine just one word for their traditional “Word of the Year”. Obscure medical terms like “pandemic” and “coronavirus” are now used every day. Words that were never previously used together are joined to become common phrases like “social distancing”, “doom scrolling” and (my favorite) “dumpster fire”.
However, if I could propose a “2020 Word of the Year” for our dental profession, it would be “resilience”. From the Latin re- “back, again” + salire “to jump, leap”, it describes our motivation for 2021. We will “bounce back”.
Of all of the health care professions, dentistry has made the greatest sacrifice during this pandemic. Throughout the country, we closed our offices for weeks or even months to prevent the spread of the virus in crowded waiting rooms and through aerosol generating procedures. Our shuttered offices allowed the hospital emergency department and ICU front-line workers better access to the limited amounts of personal protective equipment at the time. In the meantime, we made serious investments in physical changes, procedures and protocols to make our offices as safe as possible for both our employees and our patients.
It is important to note that these measures to protect the American public from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic were coordinated by the American Dental Association. In Wisconsin, our own WDA chose to donate thousands of dollars worth of PPE set aside for our Mission of Mercy event to Wisconsin hospitals in need. The WDA has worked tirelessly to keep our members up to date with the ever changing stream of information related to this pandemic. Organized dentistry has provided that strength in numbers, making us an important player in protecting the health of our citizens. With the development of effective vaccines, the profession will recover, and be better as a result of these challenging times.