The latest information regarding COVID-19’s impact on dentistry is showing positive trends and attitudes while looking towards the future. A huge factor that plays into this optimistic outlook is new developments with the vaccine. Confidence towards the vaccine is high among both dentists and patients, with many dentists hoping to get vaccinated shortly. Through the examination of recent information provided by the American Dental Association, these positive trends are effectively demonstrated.
As of early December, 99% of dental practices are open in the United States. With 40% of them reporting “business as usual”, things are looking increasingly positive with room for more growth. The highest patient volumes are being reported by endodontists, oral surgeons, dentists in group practices, and dentists practicing in rural and suburban areas. Employment in dental offices is also up to 98.5% of pre-COVID-19 levels as more dental professionals return to work. With these increases of both dentists and patient in dental offices, a level of normalcy is being achieved in the dental sphere. PPE has also remained stable for the past several months with gowns, gloves, and disinfecting supplies still seeing the most fluctuation in supply.
In regard to COVID-19 testing, only a mere 1% of dentists are offering tests to their patients. But nonetheless, patients are ready, willing, and eager to return to the dentist. 86% of people are ready to return to the dentist or already having recently visited the dentist during the pandemic. This makes quick and accurate testing extremely important in helping identify cases and the minimize spread from dental appointments as more people visit the dentist. Patients should continue to monitor their health for potential symptoms and play their part in hindering the spread of this virus.
Overall, it is apparent that rapid response COVID-19 testing is not being offered by many dental practices. This could be due to a number of reasons such as the cost of testing or the availability for patients. As long as testing is made available at a variety of other institutions this should not present too much of an issue for dental practices.
According to polls, the majority of individuals believe that it is important for dentists to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 84% of dentists agree that they think it is “extremely” or “very” important to be vaccinated. Another interesting trend can be seen while examining specific dental entities. For example, dentists in large group practices along with dentists in urban areas, non-DSO affiliated practices, and owner dentists are the highest believers in getting vaccinated. There are also variations in opinion depending on various demographics. Older individuals tend to find more importance in the vaccine, along with more males than females finding it to be “extremely” important. The higher hesitancy in younger people and females is slight but apparent while examining the responses.
These trends will hopefully remain positive as the vaccine continues to be dispensed. Although uncertainty surrounds the allocation timeline of vaccinations, the main hope is that they are swiftly provided to those most in need. Those who are most at risk along with healthcare providers are first in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It seems as though most individuals are eagerly waiting until it is readily available for them and we hope that once the vaccine becomes available to dental professional, it helps further promote positive recovery and growth of our industry.