The Impact of COVID-19 on the Dental Industry

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Dental Industry   

Tuesday, October 5
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM (CT)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the US healthcare system, and the dental industry is no exception. When the pandemic rapidly escalated in March and April 2020, many states banned elective dental procedures, including routine examinations and preventive care. This was part of a broader effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in fighting COVID-19. In May, many of these state prohibitions expired and dental practices began to reopen for elective care, albeit with a variety of restrictions. As of January 2021, however, only 43 percent of practices reported “business as usual” in terms of patient volume, according to a poll conducted by the Health Policy Institute of the American Dental Association. This decreased volume is likely a result of patient reluctance to visit the dentist combined with reduced operating capacity to prepare the office between appointments. It is also indicative of the decline in US dental care spending during the pandemic and suggests that patients are continuing to postpone routine dental services, putting their overall health at risk. Drawing on the nation’s largest repository of private healthcare claims data, this session will present a claims-based analysis of utilization of dental services to explore how dental care has rebounded, or failed to rebound, after the beginning of the pandemic.  


The analysis will: 

  • Compare trends in dental service utilization before, during and after the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic,  
  • Identify trends in oral health issues, such as dental caries and periodontal infections, resulting from deferred preventive dental services,  
  • Examine trends in US dental care spending throughout the pandemic.  


Specific data inquiries will include top procedure codes and diagnoses, reduction in elective service utilization (e.g., implants, periodontal bone surgery), changes in the number of root canals performed, growing requests for mouth guards, efficiency within dental visits (i.e., multiple services for one claim for one patient), PPE costs for dental visits, and the rise of teledentistry, among others. The information presented in this session will be useful to stakeholders throughout the healthcare sector, particularly dentists and other oral healthcare providers, as well as payors, policy makers and researchers.  


Donna_Smith_headshot_ios-3x_1564524904.jpgDonna Smith

Chief Client Officer, FAIRHealth

Donna Smith is the chief client officer at FAIR Health, a national, independent nonprofit corporation dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information through comprehensive data products, consumer resources and health systems research support. As executive sponsor for FAIR Health’s large client base and workers’ compensation agencies, Ms. Smith demonstrates how FAIR Health data bring value to the various stakeholders that cross multiple market segments in the healthcare ecosystem. Ms. Smith has more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, concentrating on benefits administration, managed care, payor, claims and provider solutions. Prior to joining FAIR Health, she actively served many facets of the insurance industry sectors, such as employee benefits, workers’ compensation, property and casualty, carriers, underwriters, reinsurance, self-insurance, third-party administrators and healthcare technology through work as senior executive at Sungard (now Fiserv) and independent consultant. Donna has participated in several key industry associations—including Health Care Administrators Association, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Institute for Healthcare Consumerism (IHC), Institute of Medicine (IOM), Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) and Southern Association of Workers' Compensation Administrators (SAWCA)—by serving in many capacities, such as focused panels, workshops, task groups and committees, including a Board of Directors appointment with SIIA, serving the self-insured health plans and workers’ compensation employers. She continues to participate and speak at various industry forums representing the many sectors FAIR Health serves.

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