Oral Surgery Sees Significant Declines in Use and Revenue

Dentistry Today


Oral surgeons were hit particularly hard when dental practices shut down due to COVID-19, according to FAIR Health. From March 2019 to March 2020, oral surgery fell 80% in utilization and 84% in revenue based on total estimated allowed amounts. From April 2019 to April 2020, decreases included 81% in utilization and 92% in revenue based on total estimated allowed amounts.

In its study, FAIR Health used its repository of private claims data to analyze on a monthly basis changes in utilization and estimated in-network reimbursement amounts for healthcare professionals in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Specialties studied included cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, pediatric primary care, and adult primary care in addition to oral surgery.

Overall, these healthcare professional services declined 68% in utilization and 48% in revenue from 2019 to 2020. Professionals in the northeast saw particularly sharp drops in utilization (80%) and revenue (79%) from April to April. Oral surgery’s decreases were the largest in the specialties studied, followed by gastroenterology. Pediatric primary care had the smallest decreases from year to year.

The top five procedures by utilization for oral surgery changed considerably from January to April 2020. Telephone E&M by a physician or other qualified healthcare professional, 11 to 20 minutes, climbed from number 131 in January to number one in April, as practices turned to telehealth to pre-screen patients before scheduling appointments. It was followed by:

  • Orthopantogram (third in January)
  • Office outpatient visit, 15 minutes (eighth in January)
  • Office outpatient visit, 25 minutes (tenth in January)
  • Removal of impacted tooth, completely bony (first in January)

In the top five oral surgery procedures by total estimated allowed amounts, removal of impacted tooth (completely bony) remained number one from January to April 2020, while removal of impacted tooth (partially bony) shifted from second to third in that period. Reconstruction of the jaw rose from fourth to second. Continuous positive airway pressure climbed from number 46 to fourth, and office outpatient visit (25 minutes) rose from nineteenth to fifth.

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