COVID-19 Pandemic and its Impact on Dentistry: A Cross-sectional Survey of Practicing Dentists
Jordan J Cimilluca, Kevin C Lee, Steven Halepas, Bridget Ferguson
COVID-19, Personal protective equipment, Practice management
Citation Information :
Cimilluca JJ, Lee KC, Halepas S, Ferguson B. COVID-19 Pandemic and its Impact on Dentistry: A Cross-sectional Survey of Practicing Dentists. J Contemp Dent Pract 2021; 22 (5):473-478.
Aim and objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the economic impact and the dental practice changes associated with the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
Materials and methods: This was a cross-sectional survey conducted at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020). The study sample was derived from the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Alumni network, which included the graduating classes between 1975 and 2015. Active dental practitioners were surveyed regarding changes to their current operations and protective safety measures through a 22 closed-ended questionnaire-based survey.
Results: The response rate was 17%. Nearly 70.92% of respondents laid off at least one staff member during the COVID-19 pandemic, 51.80% expressed fear of permanent closure, and 79.43% applied for a small business administration loan. There were no significant associations between the amount of time in practice and the need to lay off staff members, the fear of going out of business, or the rates of application for the small business administration loan. Many practitioners bought at least one device geared toward reducing COVID-19 transmission, such as ultraviolet (UV) lights (26.21%), extraoral suctions (37.31%), and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air filters (54.55%).
Conclusion: At the peak of the pandemic, the majority of dental providers had to reduce staff and seek financial assistance. Concurrently, many of these practices also invested in new safety equipment with the intention of reducing viral transmission.
Clinical significance: External mouth suctions, commercial air purifiers, and air exchange devices might be useful in the private practice setting. However, financially strained practitioners should recognize that these devices have not currently been proven to be effective against the COVID-19 virus.
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