Blue Shield Dental Trends During COVID-19
Due to the pandemic, dentistry has changed and the effects on how dental procedures are performed and access to care may be permanent. Below are the evolving trends and how Blue Shield of California is addressing this changing environment.
Dental Care Trends
- Raised awareness and increased efforts to disinfect dental offices. Increased efforts to mitigate cross contamination from patient to doctor and vice versa, including disinfecting dental chairs, instruments, and increased use of single-use disposable barriers in dental operatories.
- Certain dental procedures that generate an aerosol have been temporarily or permanently eliminated to prevent the spread of the virus and replaced with alternative methods of treatment that may be here to stay.
- Root canal therapy is expected to decline as implants become mainstream and the cost of implants decline relative to salvaging a broken tooth.
- While the types of services available through virtual visits are and always will be limited, teledentistry may have found a niche market among orthodontists along with triaging dental emergencies and conducting follow-up appointments for observation.
Dental Provider Trends
- Close to 1% of dental offices will close, nearly the normal rate of retirement, merger, and other closures.
- Many recent dental graduates will probably not open a private office, electing instead to work for large dental service corporations for a steady paycheck and benefits.
- With SmileDirectClub prevailing before the California Dental Board to provide orthodontic services without dentist supervision, there may be a decline in the number of dentists entering orthodontics.
- Dentistry is rebounding and offices are running more efficiently with less pre-COVID-19 overhead, such as labor costs. Struggling practices before COVID-19 are struggling the most, but well managed offices prior to the pandemic are doing better due to more care per visit, more elective care during same visits, lower labor costs, and addressing the back-log of needed care.
How Blue Shield is Addressing These Trends
- To ensure the safety of members, Blue Shield temporarily reimbursed dentists for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) during the first few months of the pandemic.
- Several teledentistry codes are reimbursable under Blue Shield’s dental plans for those that are more comfortable accessing care virtually during this time.
- Effective October 2020, Blue Shield dental PPO members have access to SmileDirectClub for a convenient in-home alternative to traditional in-office orthodontic care.
- How the program works:
- Employees can get free impressions by visiting one of more than 235 SmileShops for a 3D scan (no cost) or order an at-home impression online (no cost with rebate).
- A licensed dentist or orthodontist will work to create a personalized smile plan.
- Once your new smile is complete, you will get your first retainer (no cost with a subscription).
- With SmileDirectClub coverage employees get:
- Average treatment plan of 6 months or less.
- Clear aligners for up to 60% less than braces.
- Free premier teeth whitening.
- Free first set of retainers with a subscription.
- No monthly office visits.
Blue Shield Resources
Contact your Claremont team at 800.696.4543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.