Dentistry’s Recovery Levels Off

Dentistry Today

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Dentistry’s economic recovery seems to have plateaued, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI). The results of the July 13 edition of its biweekly poll were largely unchanged from the June 29 survey, with 98% of dental offices open and patient volume at 71% of pre-pandemic levels.

With more than 4,300 responses from dentists across the United States, the HPI reported no noticeable decrease in patient volume in Texas, Florida, or California despite rising COVID-19 infection rates. Also, the HPI found little correlation between patient volume and the number of new COVID-19 cases among the population.

Further, the HPI said, about 72% of adults are comfortable visiting the dentist now, and 14% would go with reassurance from their dentist, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or other authorities. The remaining 14% said they won’t visit the dentist again until there is a vaccine or proven treatment for COVID-19.

At this time, HPI expects an upper rebound of around 85% of pre-pandemic levels for patient volume in dental offices.

“Taken together, the data suggest the dental care rebound is tapering off and we are reaching, if not already in, the new normal,” said Marko Vujicic, PhD, HPI chief economist and vice president.

In other results:

  • 41.6% of practices reported being open with business as usual, with 56.3% open but with lower patient volume than usual.
  • 56.5% of practices saw 76% or more of typical patient volume, 25.9% saw between 51% and 75% of typical patient volume, and 9.1% saw between 25% and 50% of typical volume.
  • 46.8% saw 76% or more of typical total collections, 30.5% saw between 51% and 75% of typical total collections, and 13.1% saw between 25% and 50% of typical total collections.
  • 89.8% fully paid their staff, while 8.2% partially paid their staff.
  • 70.6% of non-owner dentists were paid that week, while 21.3% were partially paid, and 8.0% weren’t paid at all.
  • 62% of the non-owner dentists who weren’t paid at all weren’t paid because the practice could not afford to bring them back, while 28% did not want to return at this time.

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