Orthodontic respondents to the latest ADA HPI survey say they are still seeing fewer patients than they were prior to the pandemic.

Orthodontists are seeing 89% of the patient volume they had in 2019 and bringing in 87.8% of pre-pandemic collections, according to the latest survey of dental practices conducted by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute.

The numbers, which come from a breakdown by dental specialty of HPI’s monthly Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Dental Practices survey for the week of September 13, are roughly comparable to general dentists and other specialists. Oral maxillofacial surgeons come closest to their pre-pandemic numbers at 93.2% of volume and 93.5% of collections, while endodontists trail the rest of the field slightly at 88.1% and 87.2% respectively.

However, when asked about the current state of their practice, only 51.5% of surveyed orthodontists reported that things were open and business as usual, more than 10% lower than general dentists at 62.5%. In fact, orthodontists trailed every other specialty by at least 8% with the OMS field reporting the next lowest percentage at 59.5%.

On a positive note, no orthodontists reported being closed and unable to see patients. Endodontists reported the most closures at 3.2%.

The survey also asked what measures, if any were taken to maintain the financial sustainability of their practice. Nearly 38% of orthodontists reported raising fees, 17.2% said they had downsized staff, 13.8% reduced staff hours, and 10.3% took a bank loan.

On the issue of payrolls, 90.9% of orthodontists reported being able to fully pay their staff, with 6.1% reporting that they were able to partially pay staff and 3% not able to pay any staff at all. This contrasts with oral maxillofacial surgeons and prosthodontists who all reported being able to pay staff fully and general dentists, of whom 96.4% of respondents reported being able to pay fully.

The HPI survey also covers PPE stock and availability. More than 66% of orthodontists reported having extended stock, more than 14 days’ worth, of N95/KN95 masks and 81.8% reported having a stock of more than 14 days’ worth of surgical masks.

Over 66% of orthodontists reported having an extended stock of face shields and 54.5% reported having 14 days’ worth of gowns. Some orthodontists reported have no stock of either, constituting 9.1% of respondents.

For the latest survey HPI received 1,623 responses in total, with 33 from orthodontists.

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