New Study Reveals Patients Uncertain About Dental Care During COVID-19

  • North American Dental Group provides guidance on dental care during the pandemic
  • Company outlines five steps to overcome Americans’ “dental health dilemma”

(Graphic: Business Wire)

PITTSBURGH--()--A study commissioned by the North American Dental Group (“NADG”), a leading U.S. Dental Service Organization, has shown an overwhelming number of Americans have significant concerns about seeking dental treatment during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost three-quarters of those who participated in the survey (71 percent) reported that they are uncomfortable visiting their dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic for a non-time sensitive dental procedure. A majority (54 percent) would be comfortable doing so in case of a dental emergency.

Not surprisingly, 77 percent of respondents said they were concerned about their personal health and safety during the pandemic. However, only 42 percent of Americans are confident that their dentist is prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their office, according to the results of the survey. This disconnect presents a challenge for dentist offices to ensure patients they are taking adequate measure to protect their health and safety during emergency care and, importantly, when they resume routine dental care.

The study also found that 43 percent of Americans have either delayed a dental check-up, a needed dental procedure, or developed a new dental issue during the social distancing period.

“The findings are worrying as a significant number of Americans are putting off dental care, whether by choice or to comply with national and state guidelines, which could lead to meaningful problems in the future. However, it is understandable that concern regarding overall health and safety is paramount during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Andrew Matta, NADG Chief Medical Officer. “To be clear, patients should only visit the dentist if they have a dental emergency, and they should consult with their dentist prior to visiting the office to confirm the necessity of the visit.”

Other findings include:

  • 56 percent are not sure if health organizations have issued protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in dental offices.
  • There is significant confusion amongst Americans as to whether dental offices are even open during the COVID-19 pandemic. 39 percent believe that offices are open only for emergencies, 27 percent think that offices are closed, and 34 percent are not sure.
  • Half of Americans believe the most important consideration for visiting their dentist during the pandemic is knowing whether there have been any known cases of COVID-19 in their office.
  • Other factors for visiting their dentist include:
    • If they are following CDC guidelines for containing the spread of COVID-19 (43 percent)
    • If they are taking medical precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during exams (40 percent)
    • If/how they are screening patients for COVID-19 before dental treatments (40 percent)

The poll revealed Americans are simply concerned about personal health and safety overall during COVID-19 and that concern increases with age. 77 percent of those surveyed said they were concerned, 65% for those 18-34 years old, 77 percent for those 35-54 and 86 percent for those over age 55.

To overcome what Dr. Matta is calling Americans’ “dental health dilemma”, patients who must visit their dentist should follow these five steps:

  1. Contact your dentist to determine if you require treatment for a dental emergency or if it can wait. Your dentist may ask to connect via a video call to better assess the need for immediate care.
  2. Only seek care if you are healthy and do not suspect that you have been exposed to COVID-19. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are concerned that you may have been exposed, work with your dentist to determine an appropriate plan.
  3. Arrive on time for your appointment by yourself. Anyone accompanying you to the appointment should expect to wait outside the office.
  4. Maintain social distancing, as possible, and good hygiene when you are in the office. If you have a wait, sit at least six feet away from any other patients. Ask to wash your hands before and after your procedure and avoid touching your face.
  5. Ensure you understand and follow any provided discharge instructions so you return to health as soon as possible and avoid the need for any unnecessary follow-up care.

“Across the country, the NADG team is putting our communities first, whether through the donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare systems, volunteering their time, or treating dental emergencies,” said Ken Cooper, NADG CEO. “Each NADG affiliate that is open to treat emergency dental procedures is taking added steps to ensure that our patients, team members, and dentists are protected, including screening patients before they enter the practice, limiting access to the waiting room, using appropriate PPE, and frequently sanitizing all surfaces. We want our patients to know that while any non-emergency dental procedure should wait, if an emergency requires a visit to a NADG supported office, they can have the confidence that we’re prioritizing their safety.”

This survey was conducted by NADG on April 3-6, 2020 in partnership with YouGov, an international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm. The survey answers were gathered from 1,270 total sample adults 18+ in the United States, with a margin of error of +/- 2.75 percent.

About North American Dental Group

North American Dental Group (“NADG”), based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was co-founded by Ken Cooper and Dr. Andrew Matta in 2008. NADG was created to transform the dental experience for its patients, clinicians, and its support teams and today consists of a network of over 230 dental practices in 15 states and 29 regional markets. The values of maintaining an emotionally intelligent approach, to be thoughtful educators, and to display a healthy bravado fuel our day-to-day patient care and operations. These founding values are alive and well as NADG celebrates its pioneer spirit by solidifying its partnership with Jacobs Holding AG.


North American Dental Group
Teresa Hammond


North American Dental Group
Teresa Hammond