Surveyed orthodontists reported only being at 80% of patient capacity due to patient cancellations and fewer appointments.

According to the March American Dental Association Health Policy Institute survey, patient cancellations are having a significant impact on patient volume for dental professionals.

In the survey, orthodontists reported having only 80% of available appointments scheduled. The 2 main limitations on patient volumes were cancellations and patients not making enough appointments. About 60% of orthodontists reported that cancellations were the most significant factor, and 47% said patients weren’t making appointments.

General dentists have seen a steady uptick in patient volume and reported being at 88% of appointment capacity. This was up from 83% in February and 77% in January. Cancellations were far and away, the most common limitation at 80%.

The poll also asked dentists about mask requirements in their practices. Two-thirds of dentists in the country required patients to wear a mask in the waiting area in March. Most dentists required both clinical and non-clinical staff, 70% and 62% respectively, to mask continually throughout the workday.

Dental team recruitment needs eased up slightly in March. One-third of dentists had to recruit dental hygienists, and 38% required dental assistants. The difficulty with the recruitment of these positions has remained relatively stable.

Only 4.5% of orthodontists reported needing more dental hygienists, but about 43% were looking for more dental assistants. Hygienists remained the most challenging position to recruit for orthodontists.

Fewer than 3 in 10 dentists are confident in the U.S. economic recovery, though the majority remain somewhat confident in their practice and the dental sector’s recovery.

It is important to note that HPI only received 44 orthodontist responses to the questions, compared to 1,615 general dentists.

The complete survey and specialist breakdown are available online.

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