Dental Care's New Normal: Provider Survey Reveals the Need to Adapt and Redesign

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed dental offices under significant stress. To learn how they are navigating the situation, the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health surveyed nearly 4,000 dental providers. The results reveal a strong consensus among providers that it will not be possible to return to pre-pandemic operations, and that they must find new care and financial pathways for the future.  

Key findings of the survey include: 

  • 93% of providers said they anticipated long-term changes in dentistry, including how care is provided.  
  • Strong majorities expected long-term changes in the number of patients seen on a typical day (72%), the way that front desk and clinical staff work (71%) and in infection control procedures (69%).  
  • The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have significantly reduced patient visits and, as a result, could accelerate a shift to telehealth for at least some oral health services. 

Due to the nature of oral health care, dental practices face unique challenges and providers will need to strategically refocus their practices. With certain changes in treatment protocols, along with a shift to telehealth, dentistry appears to be headed for a new normal. 

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Teledentistry: Providing Access to Care During the COVID-19 Crisis explores how providers can use telehealth to consult with patients, triage their needs and offer limited urgent services, deterring those with nontraumatic dental conditions from seeking care in emergency departments. 

Teledentistry is an Effective Tool to Triage Patients and Save Money explores dental service utilization patterns and rate of return following teledentistry visits. 

System Transformation: A Three Domains Framework to Innovating Oral Health Care outlines a Three Domain Framework that creates a new model in dentistry, a roadmap for the future that will be cost-effective, efficient and more equitable.