It’s not just cleaning supplies and toilet paper that have suddenly shot up in price amid the coronavirus pandemic. Fewer Americans are getting regular dental care as COVID continues to surge throughout the U.S., according to an October report from the American Dental Association (ADA) obtained by USA Today. All in all, while 99 percent of U.S. dental offices are now open following COVID-related closures, dentists are seeing approximately 20 percent fewer patients than prior to the pandemic, meaning your next appointment at the dentist is likely to get more expensive, too. Read on to learn why, and for more goods and services with skyrocketing prices, These Items Will Be More Expensive After Coronavirus.
Approximately 15 to 20 percent of Americans who would otherwise get regular dental care are “not going to go back to the dentist until there’s a vaccine or a proven treatment,” explains Mark Vujicic, the ADA’s chief economist.
The ADA reports that, all in all, Americans could spend up to 38 percent less on dental care in 2020 than in an average year, with many dentists forced to account for the shortfall by increasing the costs passed on to patients. According to the ADA, dentists are spending up to $20 extra per patient on COVID-related safety measures, as well as reducing their overall patient load in order to space out appointments and allow for adequate cleaning between patients.
It’s not patients alone who may bear the brunt of 2020’s dental slowdown, though. “I do think we will see additional layoffs and some exits in the market,” says Vujicic. “It’s suggesting to me that it’s not a sustainable situation.”
The ADA reports that finding skilled staffers for dental practices has been a challenge amid the pandemic, too. Dental offices reported in October that their staffs had shrunk to 93 percent of what they were prior to COVID, with 80 percent of dentists looking to hire dental hygienists saying there have been significant challenges doing so, and 70 percent of those hiring dental assistants saying the same.
The dire economic realities related to coronavirus shutdowns have also caused serious financial troubles for dentists themselves. According to USA Today, many dentists with independent practices, finding themselves unduly burdened both in terms of finances and time, are increasingly joining dental support organizations (DSOs), which offer administrative help, while countless others are seeking to sell their practices or join larger group practices.
However, despite many patients’ trepidation about returning to the dentist, the rate of coronavirus among dental professionals has remained surprisingly low. A preprint of a report to be published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reveals that under one percent of dentists from a sample group of nearly 2,200 respondents had either a confirmed or probable case of COVID, indicating that “current infection control recommendations may be sufficient to prevent infection in dental settings.”
If you do decide to head back to the dentist during the pandemic, read on to find out what steps