The contrasting short-term effects of COVID-19 on dental care practices in the United States

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Objectives: The study utilized a cross-sectional survey to determine the short-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on dental care practices. The authors hypothesized that the effects of the pandemic would indicate differences based on the ethnicity of the participating dentist. Materials and Methods: The survey was available online between June 1, 2020 and July 10, 2020, a period when many dental offices remained closed, and for the most part, unable to provide non-emergency dental care. The link to the survey was made available to dentists through outreach to several national dental organizations. Descriptive statistics summarized the characteristics of the entire sample and Fisher's exact test was used to examine respondents' answers stratified by ethnicity using frequencies and percentages. Results: All ethnic groups reported decreased revenue and African American dentists were the least likely to report a decrease in revenue compared to White and Other ethnic groups (84.2%, 87.2% and 92.9%). African American dentists were the most likely to report willingness to contribute to a task force to address the new challenges resulting from COVID-19 when compared to White and Other ethnic groups (46.4%, 18.8%, and 29.6%, respectively). African American dentists were more likely to indicate a need for a stronger connection to academic programs as compared to White or Other dentists in order to address current and future challenges (12.3%, 0.0%, and 9.1%). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected dental practices differently, highlighting racial disparities, and strategies that factor in the race or ethnicity of the dentist and the communities in which they practice need to be considered to ensure that underserved communities receive needed resources.

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