Dentistry’s recovery seems to have stabilized, according to the August 10 biweekly poll from the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI), with 98% of dental offices open and patient volume at 73% of pre-pandemic levels, numbers that are largely unchanged from the previous ADA HPI poll.
The latest poll also asked dentists about their use of hospitals and surgery centers. COVID-19 has led to more limited hospital and surgery center availability for dental cases mainly due to the surge that the disease has brought to hospitals.
Also, among the 7% of dentists who do schedule cases for dental treatment under general anesthesia in a hospital or surgery center, half said cases are being scheduled the same as before, 42% said cases are scheduled on a more limited basis, and 8% aren’t scheduling cases at all.
The pandemic could potentially lead to reductions in dental safety net capacity as well, according to the poll. About 6% of Medicaid providers in private practices have dis-enrolled since the start of the pandemic, and about 22% intend to dis-enroll by the end of the year.
The ADA HPI has been monitoring consumer opinions as well, with about three out of four people who visited the dentist last year saying they are comfortable visiting the dentist now. Another 11% would be willing to go with reassurances that it would be safe, and 15% waiting for a vaccine or proven treatment for COVID-19.
As a result, the ADA HPI said, patient volume in dental offices likely has an upper bound of around 85% of pre-pandemic levels for now. In other results:
- 47.6% of practices were open with business as usual, and 51.3% were open but with lower patient volume.
- 61.9% of practices saw 76% or more of typical patient volume, 23.7% saw between 51% and 75%, and 7.1% saw between 25% and 50%.
- 55.8% saw 76% or more of typical patient collections, 27.0% saw between 51% and 75%, and 9.7% saw between 25% and 50%.
- 93.8% of practices are fully paying their staffs
- 73.3% of non-owner dentists are being fully paid, 20.9% are being partially paid, and 5.8% aren’t being paid at all.