The economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic were big, sudden and all-encompassing. Hardly an industry avoided a negative impact from COVID-related social distancing and hygiene measures, shelter in place orders and loss of business and employment. Dental practices, as noted by the American Dental Association (ADA), “came to a virtual standstill,” closing down for a period to all but emergency procedures.

As a result, among the healthcare professions, the ADA reports that dental practices were hit the hardest. Mid-April, for example, employment in dental offices were at 45% the norm, compared to 90% in physician’s offices and 77% in the offices of other health care practitioners.

To help dentists cope with these challenges and plan for recovery, the ADA in March began projecting the effects of the pandemic. In the latest iteration of the data, including the rebound of many dental offices by June, not all news was bad, showing a resurgence more quickly than the ADA previously expected.

Although any predictions regarding the ongoing impact of the pandemic include a fairly high degree of uncertainty, the ADA foresees these scenarios (barring another shutdown or a widespread second wave of the virus) as most likely:

  • Scenario One – Partial recovery of the dental industry in 2020 and 2021, with dental spending at 63% projected pre-pandemic levels for 2020 and at 80% for 2021.
  • Scenario Two – 2020 spending at 69% the pre-pandemic projects levels, with spending fully recovering to 100% by November of 2020.
  • Scenario Three – Full recovery of the U.S. economy in 2021, but only partial recovery of dental spending… to 80% projected pre-pandemic levels.
  • Scenario Four – Full recovery of dental spending by December of 2020, continuing into a normal year of projected spending in 2021.  

The scenarios vary, but all show continued improvement in the dental economy over the next few months. The key takeaway is that, given the current state of the economy and the historic evidence from the influenza pandemic of 1918, the industry will recover — possibly more quickly than originally predicted.

Dental practices in New York began opening June 1. As you welcome patients back to your practice, MLMIC encourages you to consult these strategies for safe reopening and operations.