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Operating costs changes focus of latest HPI economic poll

Dentists also report more stress regarding student loans

November 20, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin



Operating costs are up for most dental practices as a result of the pandemic, according to data from the ADA Health Policy Institute impact of COVID-19 poll for the week of Nov. 2.

More than 90% of 2,610 responding dentists reported that their current operating costs were “a lot higher” or “somewhat higher” than was typical before the coronavirus pandemic. The results also show that 95% of dentists were profitable before the pandemic compared to 60% now.

The poll also focused on what dental practices have changed in order to reduce the transmission of aerosols in their offices. More than 65% of dental practices reported increasing their use of hand scaling. Other answers included increasing silver diamine fluoride (23%), fluoride varnish (13%) and glass ionomers (11%).

In this wave of the poll, dentists were asked about student loans, with 20% reporting holding federal student loans and 14% reporting holding private student loans. Those with loans were asked to rate their stress levels on a scale of 1-10 on this debt before and during the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, their average stress level was 4.5 but is now at 5.9.

Complete results of this HPI COVID-19 poll, including results broken down by practice size, dental service organization status and at the state level, are available here.

Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., HPI’s vice president and the ADA’s chief economist, recorded a presentation of the latest results, which is now available on YouTube.

The presentation also included key insights from an expert panel, including whether the profession is about to see another slowdown in patient volume, how consumer job loss will impact patient volume, if the pandemic is causing an increase in retirement rates among dentists, and more. The panel included Eme Augustini, executive director, National Association of Dental Plans; Roger Levin, CEO, Levin Group; and Jon Last, president, Sports & Leisure Research Group, and partner in Back-to-Normal Barometer polling.

All previous webinars are available on the ADA YouTube channel. Subscribe to receive information on new videos as they are released.