“These values have been roughly unchanged for several weeks and suggest we have reached a ‘steady state’ of economic activity in dental offices,” according to an ADA update.
Findings stem from a biweekly poll from the Health Policy Institute. The most recent analysis projected a 37% drop in U.S. dental spending this year compared to before the coronavirus pandemic, and an almost 20% reduction in 2021.
Roughly 44% of open dental practices reported “business as usual,” and this figure has been slowly declining from a high of almost 49% in late August.
Approximately 15% of patients say they need a medical breakthrough in order to visit a dentist’s office, according to the data. Also, another recent report from the ADA suggested that less than 1% of U.S. dentists were infected with the coronavirus during the pandemic.
“This means that what dentists are doing – heightened infection control and increased attention to patient and dental team safety – is working,” Marcelo Araujo, senior author of the report and the American Dental Association Science and Research Institute CEO, said in a statement.
Concern over potential virus transmission during dental care arose earlier in the pandemic given aerosol-generating procedures, or the idea that small virus-laden particles flung into the air from handpieces, air-water syringes and ultrasonic scalers could cause infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also in the update, the ADA said dental practice staffing reached about 93% of pre-pandemic levels, about one-third of practices were hiring dental assistants and 25% were seeking hygienists. However, hiring has not been easy. Almost 80% of dentists reported difficulty in recruiting hygienists.
On another note, more than half of patients reported interest in getting a COVD-19 vaccine at their dental office. Earlier this week, news broke that Pfizer may apply for emergency approval for its coronavirus vacccine candidate by late November, assuming the vaccine proves safe and effective in its late-stage human trials.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, previously explained that any vaccine candidate would then be subject to review by a data and safety monitoring board, or "independent group" of scientists, statisticians and other experts "not beholden" to the Food and Drug Administration, President Trump or himself. He said the data from a given trial becomes public after review by the independent board, then the FDA and its commissioner and another independent body and advisory group, VRBPAC.