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HPI polling shows dental practices recovering as states reopen

May 26, 2020
HPI Poll Week of May 18 Current Practice Status


Dental practices continued to rebound as 65% were back open the week of May 18, with 38% reporting that patient volume had returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to the fifth round of results released May 26 from the ADA Health Policy Institute poll on the impact of COVID-19. In the 27 states that have been reopened for at least three full weeks, the patient rebound has been even higher, reaching 54% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

The fifth wave of this poll, collecting data from over 6,500 dentists in private practice for the week of May 18, shows positive signs of recovery among dental practices. Staffs were fully paid by 58% of dental practices, compared to 11% that were fully paid the week of April 6.

Employed dentists were not being hired back at the same pace as other dental team members, but there was some improvement. A total of 27% of employed dentists reported being paid fully the week of May 18, a 13 percentage points increase from the polling data from the week of May 4.

HPI Poll Week of May 18 Patient Volume

The week of May 18, 40 states had reopened for elective dental services, with 21 of them reopened with no restrictions other than additional personal protective equipment (PPE). While PPE availability is still a concern for many dentists, last week’s poll also showed that stockpiles of PPE began to rise. When comparing May 4 and May 18 data, dentists have reported having more N95/KN95 surgical masks, face shields and gowns in stock.

In last week’s poll, owner dentists whose practices were not open for elective care were asked what was keeping them from fully reopening. The top reason was their state not recommending resuming elective care (62%), followed by lack of adequate supply of PPE (53%), unclear guidance for reopening their practices (34%), and dental team members’ hesitation to return to practice (28%). 

HPI will continue to track data every two weeks in every state to provide a glimpse into how the pandemic is unfolding. Dentists who wish to view complete results, including results broken down by practice size, Dental Service Organization status and at the state level, from all waves of this survey can do so on ADA.org/HPI.