The ADA Health Policy Institute has launched a monthly poll of U.S. dentists to measure the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to gather dentists' opinions on other current and emerging issues impacting their practices. The new poll, Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry, is a continuation and expansion of research HPI conducted between the onset of the pandemic and December 2021. More than 2,000 dentists from across the country responded to the first wave of the poll.
Key findings in the January results include:
- On average nationally, appointment schedules are 77% full among dentists in private practice. When dentists who reported schedules below 100% were asked which factors prevented their practice from reaching capacity, 9 in 10 cited patient cancellations, while 38% cited not enough patients making appointments, and 1 in 3 said they had trouble filling vacant staff positions.
- In terms of staff recruitment, a third of the respondents indicated they had recently or were currently recruiting dental hygienists and 39%, dental assistants. Among those recruiting dental hygienists, 73% found recruiting the position to be "extremely challenging" compared to 55% of those recruiting dental assistants.
- Dentists' confidence in their own practices and in the dental care sector are relatively high, but most dentists are wary of the U.S. economy. While 68% of dentists said they were "very or somewhat confident" in the recovery of their particular dental practice in the next six months, and 64% felt that way about the recovery of the dental care sector in general, only 34% were at least somewhat confident in the recovery of the U.S. economy in the first half of the year.
- When asked what the top challenges facing their dental practices in the next six months, 69% cited staffing issues, followed by 35% mentioning inflation, overhead or rising costs, and 23% were concerned about low reimbursement issues.
The poll breaks down results according to ownership status, practice size, DSO affiliation and other demographic categories and there is also a separate report for results for general practitioners, six specialties and dentists working in public health settings.
Interested in joining the panel? Visit ADA.org/HPI.
All dentists who join will receive a short survey to help HPI assess the current conditions in their dental practices or public health setting on a monthly basis. HPI encourages dentists from all practice types, backgrounds, specialties and geographic regions to participate.