Patients Plan to Seek Delayed Dental Care
The American Dental Association’s member surveys have shown of practices continuing to return to full operation, with 98% reporting being open and back to business as usual as of presstime.
Considering that nearly all dental practices closed their doors to nonemergency care in March1 following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations,2 it is hardly surprising that a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll finds that dental services were the No. 1 type of care that had been postponed or was simply unavailable due to COVID-19. More than half of the survey respondents reported they or a family member had delayed medical or dental care in the three months prior to the survey (March, April and May), and, among those who delayed care, 71% said they had put off oral health procedures.3
Fortunately, the CDC recognizes the harm that may come with a delay in routine, nonemergency dental care. Among the 14% of survey respondents who said they suffered a worsening of their condition due to delays in care, by far the principal conditions that worsened were dental issues.
Although safety concerns persist, the KFF poll also found that patients seem eager to receive the care they missed earlier in the year. At the time of the survey, a full 70% said they planned to get this care in the next three months. Another 7% said they had already sought treatment.
This pent-up demand bodes well for the trend the American Dental Association’s member surveys have shown of practices continuing to return to full operation, with 98% reporting being open and back to business as usual as of presstime.
- American Dental Association. Dental practices continue to recover, according to HPI poll. Available at: https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/june/dental-practices-continue-to-recover-according-to-hpi-poll. Accessed August 14, 2020.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance for dental settings: Interim infection prevention and control guidance for dental settings during the COVID-19 response. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/dental-settings.html. Accessed August 14, 2020.
- Hamel L, Kearney A, Kirzinger A, et al. Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. Available at: https://www.kff.org/report-section/kff-health-tracking-poll-june-2020-social-distancing-delayed-health-care-and-a-look-ahead-to-the-2020-election/. Accessed August 14, 2020.
From Decisions in Dentistry. September 2020;6(8):46.