A Recent Look at COVID-19: Will Patient Volume Decline in the Coming Months?

Information about the dental sector during the COVID-19 pandemic depends on a variety of factors. One of the most important elements to consider is patient volume because it affects various operations of dental offices. Employment levels and profitability also play a big role in the success of offices during this pandemic. By looking at the most recent information from the American Dental Association (ADA), the latest trends are a good indication of what the future holds.

The current status of dental practices continues to be affected by the pandemic. As of the week of November 2nd, almost all dental practices in the United States are open, specifically 99% of them. Only about 38% of these practices describe their patient volume as “business as usual”, which is a category that has been decreasing over the past few months. While examining COVID-19 in various states, there is a correlation between positive cases and patient volume. States with a greater increase in cases report a larger decline in patient volume over the past few months.

Staffing is one aspect of dental offices that continues to be stable over the past few months of the pandemic. Although it is at 97.5% of pre-COVID-19 levels which has been increasing, this increase has been slowing down recently. PPE availability has also been relatively stable in the dental industry. Only a few products still continue to be slight issues: Gowns, N95 masks, and disinfecting supplies.

In regards to the profitability of dental practices, nine out of ten dentists are experiencing an increase in operating costs as of the week of November 2nd. About 27% of dentists are reporting that they are “breaking even” while 13% report that they are “unprofitable”. Before the pandemic, only a mere 1% of offices were considered unprofitable. 60% of dentists are now highly or somewhat profitable which shows a stark contrast to the 95% of dentists that reported being profitable before COVID-19.

As these trends have indicated time and time again, the dental industry strongly hinges on COVID-19. It is very positive to observe stability in regards to both staffing and PPE availability. On the other hand, the profitability of dental practices is taking a huge hit due to the pandemic. Like the rest of the nation, this industry holds its collective breath on a successful vaccine to try to help steer our world back to normalcy.