PARMA, Ohio – The Ohio Dental Association said the latest report from the American Dental Association shows that nearly 91% of patients are now returning to their dentists to catch up on dental care due to the pandemic, but in some this causes a significant backlog of nominations.
Some patients in northeastern Ohio are reporting that their dentists cannot see them for non-emergency visits, like cleaning and check-ups until early spring 2022.
Ohio Dental Association editor-in-chief Dr Matthew Messina told News 5 it was a good thing that many patients are now returning to regular dental care, but it is causing a rush on appointment openings. dental. Messina said the ADA report from the end of November also indicated that some dentists were facing staff shortages linked to the pandemic, resulting in longer wait times for an appointment.
“We have patients who have different care and then we have patients who have maintained their care at this point, and they are all coming together,” Messina said. “The ADA report states that one in three dentists say they have time difficulties hiring staff, and that 44% of dentists in this survey said the understaffing limited their ability to see more patients. “
Dr Michael Alsouss of the Broadview Dental Group in Parma told News 5 that despite the pandemic, his staff are allowing his office to see 35 to 40 patients a day and still fill non-urgent appointments within three to four weeks. . Alsouss closed his office for three months in 2020 due to the state’s pandemic restrictions, but said the vast majority of his 2,000 patients were returning to their regular appointments.
Still, Alsouss understands why some local dentists make elective appointments so far away.
“It was a lot of uncertainty, people didn’t know what to do, even we as professional providers didn’t know what to do,” Alsouss said. “I’m one of those people who honestly closed my office for a while, but I was open two and a half days a week to help people in an emergency. “
“People are pretty reluctant because they’re nervous about what’s going to happen. But our patients have always trusted the way we do things in the office in terms of infection control, in terms of making sure they’re really protected.
Alsouss said he understood the importance of sticking with a dentist a patient felt comfortable and trusted with, but said if a patient had to wait longer than three months for an appointment you could ask for a simple cleaning and a check elsewhere.
“I’m not telling people to leave their providers, I’m telling them to make a decision about their health, which is more important than anything else,” Alsouss said. “I would recommend talking to family and friends, seeing how their dentist is doing. Are they comfortable with them, are they able to get them in right away? “
Meanwhile, Messina believes the current backlog of nominations is simply a short-term bottleneck, instead of a long-term structural issue. Messina said patients can let their dentists know they are flexible when making appointments for non-emergency visits.
“A lot of offices have short call lists in place, if your schedule is more flexible tell them you can put me on a short call list,” Messina said. “If somebody can’t make an appointment, they’ll call you. And say, can you come in this afternoon.
“And while you wait for that date, don’t forget to brush your teeth twice a day, floss or clean between your teeth once a day, eat healthy and drink plenty of water.”
Dental COVID-19 information and resources on how to find a member dentist can be found on the Ohio Dental Association website.