Many dental clinics in Minnesota, particularly clinics in rural areas, are at risk of permanently closing following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for remaining open only for emergency procedures, according to the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA).
Representing nearly three-quarters of practicing dentists in the state, the MDA is calling on the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Governor’s office to provide guidance for dentists on when and how they can reopen to serve patients for non-emergent care and avoid financial failure.
The ADA says that 97% of practices nationwide are only open for emergency care or closed entirely, with revenues down by an average of 95%. Many Minnesota dentists fear that they will be forced to closed due to the financial strain, the MDA said, leading to job losses
Permanent closures also will drive more patients to emergency rooms for dental issues, the MDA said. About 2 million patients already visit hospital ERs for dental issues each year in the United States, the MDA added, and that number could increase if practices close.
On March 23, Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-15, creating a small business loan program for the pandemic. Dental clinics are not eligible to access these loans, which range from $2,500 to $35,000, even though they are staying open to provide emergency care to reduce the burden on emergency rooms, the MDA said.
On March 24, the MDA sent Walz a letter asking him to expand the eligibility for these loans to include dental clinics. Though dentists are doing their part to protect providers and patients while preserving PPE and resources, the MDA said, it has not yet received a response from the governor.