Dentists could raise fees, close businesses as COVID-19 keeps patients away

October 20, 2020

    Millions across the nation may be delaying their dental appointments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    With Americans missing their appointments, this will likely cause job cuts for workers, fewer family practices, and increased fees for patients, USA Today reports.

    When the coronavirus pandemic began in March, dentist offices across the country temporarily shut down. Patients were only allowed to attend emergency appointments, putting thousands of employees out of work.

    According to the American Dental Association, 99% of dentists have reopened, but the number of people visiting offices remains 20% below the usual data.

    Dentists do not believe this will improve despite safety measures being put into practice at offices to protect patients and themselves from COVID-19.

    The ADA predicts that spending on dental care could fall by up to 38% in 2020 and 20% in 2021. More than 46% of dentists who were surveyed say their patient volume was down at least 15% during the week of October 5.

    Marko Vujicic, the chief economist of the ADA, said that about 15% to 20% of patients say “they’re not going to go back to the dentist until there’s a vaccine or a proven treatment.”

    “They’re a segment of the population that’s very cautious, and they’re waiting for COVID to pass, so to speak,” Vujicic said. “They’re simply not returning to usual activities, period.”

    Patients who have upcoming dental appointments may want to consider postponing their visits.

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you should delay your routine dental cleaning until the COVID-19 pandemic mitigates.

    The WHO said that dentists and hygienists have a more significant risk of contracting coronavirus and passing it to patients because “they are in close contact with their patients’ mouths, use spray-generating equipment that produces airborne particles, [and] are exposed to saliva, blood and body fluids.”

    While considering your next appointment, the WHO says patients should postpone check-ups, preventive care, and dental cleanings.

    The WHO says dentists should advise their patients and teach them how to maintain good oral hygiene at home. However, if you are in pain or have an emergency, you should still make an appointment.

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