Dentistry’s slow but steady recovery continued last month, according to the May 17 edition of the ADA Health Policy Institute’s monthly poll.
According to the poll, 60.9% of dental practices were open and seeing business as usual in May, compared to 58.1% in April, 50.8% in March, and 42.6% in both February and January.
Dental service organizations (DSOs) are seeing the best results, with 78.8% of practices reporting that they are open with business as usual in May. Only 67.8% of practices with two to nine dentists and 56.2% of solo dentists reported the same.
Patient volumes also saw increases, with 38.7% of practices reporting more than 95% of their pre-pandemic volumes in May. Meanwhile, 37.1% of practices saw more than 95% of their pre-pandemic volumes in April, and 30.5% saw pre-pandemic numbers in March.
Collections inched upward as well, with 38.5% reporting more than 95% of their pre-pandemic numbers in May, compared to 35.9% in April, 29.4% in March, 22.1% in February, and 19.2% in January.
DSOs are doing better in patient volumes and collections as well, with 54.7% reporting more than 95% of their pre-pandemic volumes and 54.8% reporting more than 95% of their pre-pandemic collections in May.
Meanwhile, only 34.3% of solo dentists saw more than 95% of their pre-pandemic patient volumes, and 34.2% saw more than 95% of their pre-pandemic collections in May.
Similarly, 45.5% of practices with two to nine dentists saw more than 95% of their pre-pandemic patient volumes, and 45.1% of them saw more than 95% of their pre-pandemic total collections.
Payrolls remained steady overall. In May, 95.4% of practices said they were fully paying their staff, compared to 95.9% in April, 96.0% in March, 93.9% in February, and 94.2% in January. Again, DSOs showed higher numbers than solo dentists and small practices.
Also in May, 85.0% of non-owner dentists were fully paid in May, compared to 84.6% in April, 83.0% in March, 76.7% in February, and 79.1% in January.
Dental practices are still taking measures to maintain their financial stability, however. These steps include:
- Downsizing the dental team: 6.3%
- Reducing dental team hours: 11.8%
- Reducing employee wages and benefits: 1.6%
- Disenrolling from dental benefits plans: 7.0%
- Changing dental materials suppliers or labs: 14.0%
- Raising fees: 20.9%
- Borrowing money from a bank: 12.5%
- Selling their practice: 1.3%
- Joining a DSO or large group practice: 0.6%
- Retiring: 0.9%
- Other: 5.2%
In the next three months, 23.7% of practices said they would definitely hire more staff, while 24.9% said they might, and 51.4% said they would not. Additionally, 15.6% said they would definitely invest in new equipment or technology, 36.1% said they might, and 48.4% said they would not.
Overall, 47.7% of dentists said they were very confident in the recovery of their practice, and 35.3% said they were somewhat confident. Looking at dentistry in general, 41.8% said they were very confident in its recovery, and 41.0% said they were somewhat confident.