On March 16, the American Dental Association recommended all dentists postpone elective procedures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. While we can all agree that this is an appropriate measure, that doesn’t make it any less inconvenient or scary. The virus has impacted dental practices all over our country and it continues to impact the dentists, their dental team members, patients, and so many others related to our work.
As difficult as this is for our community, it also gives dentists an incredible opportunity to catch up on business to-dos, improve your business plan, and serve our physician colleagues by donating spare supplies and time on the front lines.
Continue reading to learn how your dental practice may be affected during the coronavirus pandemic as well as how you can serve alongside medical professionals.
COVID-19 Implications on Dentistry
There’s no way anyone could have ever predicted these circumstances. Dentists are having to be extremely resourceful and creative. Here are a few ways the coronavirus could impact your dental practice:
- Patient communication and management: Dentists are using various methods of communication to inform patients about office closures and new protocols.
- Staff management: Sadly, dental team members are suffering the most from the practices being closed. In the next section, we discuss how the federal government is helping minimize the financial repercussions of this pandemic.
- Dental supplies: Personal protective equipment may be limited during this time as the medical field is in dire need. China is also one of the largest suppliers of this equipment which is sure to slow down. Dentists should also prepare for their products to be on backorder and for price increases.
No one can know for sure how this pandemic will affect the future of dentistry, but many believe there will be an increase in mobile dentistry and teledentistry. For more information about mobile dentistry and teledentistry, check out these resources:
- American Mobile Dentistry Alliance
- American Teledentistry Association
- American Telehealth Association
- Mobile Healthcare Association
- National Mobile Dentistry Conference
Help for Your Dental Practice
Though most dentists have made themselves available for emergency dental procedures, there’s no denying that all dentists who are adhering to the ADA’s recommendation will experience a huge financial deficit.
Thankfully, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) into law on March 27. This nearly $2 trillion stimulus will protect employers, workers, and businesses from incurring a severe financial hit. For dentists and their employees, the CARES Act will provide the support they need to get through this crisis and be able to go back to work as soon as the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted.
The CARES Act offers these opportunities for dentists:
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that includes $10,000 that doesn’t need to be paid back
- Loan forgiveness for federal small-business loans
- SBA loan deferment and payment reductions
- No payments or interest for federal student loan borrowers
- No income tax for dental practice employees
- Deferred payments of the employer share of the Social Security tax
- One-time federal income tax rebate
- Increased emergency unemployment compensation benefits for laid-off dental practice employees
Learn more about the CARES Act by reading it for yourself or by visiting the California Dental Association website.
One of the easiest and most helpful ways a dentist can help hospitals is by donating as much of their personal protective equipment as possible. This includes:
- Hand sanitizer
- Surgical masks
- Face masks
- N95 masks
If you can spare any of these items, feel free to take them directly to your community hospitals and emergency service departments or call your local dental society to learn where these items are needed most.
The state of California recognizes that our need for medical professionals will surpass our supply and that dentists are uniquely qualified to meet the needs of millions during the coronavirus pandemic. In response to that realization, the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers website was created. Dentists who fill out the volunteer form will be called on the help with emergency care needs, including:
- Taking vitals
- Coronavirus testing
- Treating emergencies
- Administering local anesthesia
- Administering oxygen
- Vaccinations and other injectables
- Writing prescriptions
Visit the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers website to volunteer your skills and time today.
Other Helpful Information
If you aren’t too busy with emergency dental procedures, other business responsibilities, or volunteering at a hospital, take this time to reflect on the ways you can improve the efficiency and success of your dental practice. And prepare to hit the ground running once all this is over.