DENVER — The next time you're in the dentist chair, expect to see dental professionals wearing more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) due to COVID-19.
You can also expect an additional fee when paying too.
Dental offices are charging a PPE fee that can range anywhere from $15 to $40, according to dental offices that 9NEWS contacted.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, some dental offices are upgrading safety equipment including air purifiers and vacuum systems.
Barotz Dental in Denver said staff are wearing PPE gowns, face shields, and shoe coverings normally worn for surgical procedures for any dental work requiring a drill.
Patients are also given an oral rinse and disinfectant to reduce bacteria. Before appointments, patients are screened for COVID-19 symptoms including temperature checks.
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Bartoz Denta owner Dr. Charles Barotz, said suppliers are charging more for PPE due to recent shortages. Bartoz said his office does not charge a PPE fee but he agreed patients should pay for increased safety measures.
"I believe that as a dentist we need to protect ourselves, we need to protect our patients, our team. Some dentists charge for it (PPE), and that’s their prerogative. I do think that they are justified, if they do feel they must do that."
Some dental offices rely on insurance coverage plans that come with set rates. Additional increases in costs for PPE may not be covered by third party payers which is why fees could be an out of pocket expense for patients. There could be increases in overall dental charges as well to account for the new safety measures being taken by dental professionals in the COVID-19 crisis.
"In real dollars, I would say the additional cost of PPE would probably be 10 to 15 dollars. That’s my guess," Barotz said. "We as dentists, we’re all in practice for the same reason.... we are making a living. We have black ink and we have red ink."
This comes as the American Dental Association (ADA) is urging third party payers to alter their fees to account for the increase in costs for PPE.
The ADA said in a statement that limited service with depressed patient volume is making it financially unsustainable for dental practices. The anticipated increase in overhead was not included in negotiated fees in place before the pandemic.
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