The global pandemic has wrought substantial damage on dentistry. But the profession’s core virtues help ensure it’ll come through, as it always does, better and stronger.

NEW THREATS ALWAYS rock our health-care system at first, but these disruptions don’t last forever. Think back to the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Some doctors initially believed that the only safe way to practice meant using one dedicated handpiece per patient. Today, of course, we treat patients with HIV the same as everyone else because protocols have evolved, and we know so much more about infection control.

Right now, we’re still in the early stages of closing the knowledge gap for living with Covid-19. Yet just as with HIV, the practice of dental health care goes on. Dentists nationwide have proven time and again that they’re fully capable of treating patients—all patients—safely by taking every available precaution and following the latest guidance. We don’t yet know whether things like enhanced personal protective equipment, extraoral suction and added attention to ambient air quality will become the standard of care from now on. However, if history is any indication, it won’t matter much in the long run. Dentistry has a solid track record of successfully adapting to change.

The first set of comprehensive infection-control guidelines came down in 1983. More stringent revised guidelines followed in 1986, 1993 and 2003. Working within those parameters took some adjustment at first, but now doing so is thoroughly routine. Most practices today exceed them by a substantial measure by using state-of-the-art sterilization centers, advanced chemistry and their own protocols. This has never been a profession easily satisfied with the status quo. Dentistry never stops thinking around corners, and it will find its way around this one.

You’re a constant in your patients’ lives, bringing comfort and healing, relief and caring. Covid-19 can’t, and won’t, alter that.

Some of the people who will lead that charge are among this year’s 32 Most Influential People in Dentistry, our fourth annual look at some of the industry’s truly vital participants. From political power players to dentistry’s elite clinicians and entrepreneurs, they represent a unique cross-section of brainpower across multiple disciplines and provide some important early clues for what the future of dentistry will look like.

We’re going to see significant changes this year, but one thing remains the same: You’re a constant in your patients’ lives, bringing comfort and healing, relief, and caring. Covid-19 can’t, and won’t, alter that. Over the course of 90 years, Benco Dental has seen dentistry challenged over and over again, and it always comes through better and stronger.

In this issue, we’re focused more sharply than ever on your success and how you can get an edge during changing, extraordinarily challenging times. We hope you enjoy our new direction. Here’s to the better days we know are just ahead.