Kaiser Health News (5/21, Galewitz) reports that most states are now allowing dental offices to resume providing nonemergency procedures “following the March shutdown” of these services across much of the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the article reports that “for dental practices, like many other small businesses, the shutdown has been financially devastating,” pointing to “an ADA survey of 17,000 dentists,” which “found that by early April more than 9 of 10 dentists said their patient volume was 10% or less of normal, and just under half had stopped paying their employees.” The article adds that as dental offices reopen, “many dentists plan to see fewer patients per day to reduce the number of people in their waiting rooms and give staff more time to disinfect areas between cases,” and some “dentists are concerned about getting adequate supplies.” In addition, some patients may continue to delay care due to concerns about the risks involved. ADA spokesperson Dr. Matthew Messina “said that, with added precautions such as having patients wait in their cars instead of small waiting rooms and dentists wearing face shields, people should feel comfortable about going to the dentist.” He said, “The dental office is a safe place for patients.”
An ADA Health Policy Institute webinar examining the economic impact of COVID-19 on dental practices is currently available on the ADA YouTube channel.
The ADA offers the Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit, a free resource to help dentists return to more normal practice operations while taking precautions to protect staff, patients, and themselves from COVID-19.