As of the week of January 18th, staffing, patient volume, and salaries all remain stable compared to previous months. Vaccine confidence also continues to increase among both patients and dental professionals, which go hand in hand with overall dental recovery. The outlook towards how safe it is to visit the dentist is more positive than it has been in months.
With 99% of dental practices in the U.S. open and 43% reporting business as usual, dental recovery continues to prosper. This goes hand in hand with a slight increase in patient volume compared to previous months with the best numbers being reported by dentists practicing in rural and suburban areas along with dentists in group practices. Although the statistics vary depending on a variety of factors, a positive increase is widespread.
Employment in dental practices is also following the same encouraging trends and is back up to 99% of pre-COVID-19 levels as of late December. About 94% of offices are paying their staff in full while 5% are partially paying their staff. Employee dentists are seeing the biggest residual effects in regard to employment. Nonetheless, employee dentists are still seeing a slight increase with 80% of individuals being paid fully as of the week of January 18th. PPE availability also has ongoing stability that has been persistent for the last several months.
Although many aspects of the dental sphere are demonstrating extremely enthusiastic progress towards normalcy, measures towards maintaining financial sustainability have been implemented by some dental practices. Almost one-third of dentists have raised fees in the past month along with others borrowing from banks, reducing hours, or changing suppliers. There are a variety of other factors that aid in financial sustainability but only a small percentage of dentists are taking these additional steps.
As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be dispersed among the population groups most in need of it, there is no unanimous confidence among dentists in the safety and effectiveness. Regardless, most dentists believe that it is important to discuss vaccination with patients. Many patients are asking questions about this topic, and thankfully most dentists are prepared to answer inquiries surrounding the vaccine. Dental practices should be seen as a trusted source for information such as this so it is important to stay updated and informed. Overall, it is clear that more patients are willing to return to the dentist once they receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The dental sector has nearly fully recovered while considering both hiring and employment. While there is still improvement to be seen in regards to patient volume, there is a lot of potential for positive growth. This recovery is very dependent on vaccine distribution with experts anticipating a full recovery in the summer or fall. With this in mind, it is crucial to stay up to date and informed on the current happenings of COVID-19.