COVID-19 Impacts on Dental Office Visits

Published 12/02/2020

A report from CareQuest Institute explores how COVID-19 has amplified the need for accessible and convenient oral health care, as dental teams need to consider how to alter care and business models to address a decrease in the use of dental services.

Using aggregated personal mobile device location data from SafeGraph to analyze dental patient mobility patterns from Jan. 1, 2020 until Sept. 9, 2020, the Institute report demonstrates opportunities to implement whole-person health care approaches, such as nutrition counseling, and the need for technology-based dental encounters, such as teledentistry.

Some key findings from the report:

  • Overall dental office visitation rate decreased from an average of 1.25% in April 2019 to less than 0.75% in the same month of 2020.
  • Transportation challenges only exacerbate social and health care disparities, particularly in marginalized communities. Costs associated with increased travel coupled with job loss and a plummeting economy seem to pose an additional hardship.
  • The increased adoption of teledentistry during the stay-at-home orders could have decreased the miles traveled since individuals were able to access oral health care from home.

The report also emphasizes that targeted community and public health messaging can be impactful, and the use of mobile device data can be effective in refining these strategies.

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