On March 18, 2020, we surveyed our Student Loan Planner community. I didn’t expect to receive over 4,000 responses, over 500 of which were from dentists and dental specialists. Based on our data, the dental profession is the hardest hit financially of any graduate level profession by the Coronavirus.
Offices are closing. Associates being paid on a percentage of revenue might not be earning anything. Some owners are having trouble paying their staff. This will likely require emergency access to small business loans or some other financial relief due to the severity of the problem revealed by our survey, the first of its kind during this pandemic.
How Do Dentists Compare to Other Professionals in This Recession?
The NY Times reported that dentists have among the highest exposure to diseases and proximity to others of any profession.
In one of the largest Facebook communities of online dentists, many report they have lost their income anecdotally.
Employee dentists in many cases have received pressure to stay open from their bosses and some Dental Support Organizations. Other dentists merely want to not lose their practice, make payroll, and pay their bills.
Many states have enacted rules to only allow treatment for emergency dental care. However, many dentists continue to practice even though the American Dental Association has recommended pausing elective procedures.
What About Dental Specialists and Their Income?
In the words of one endodontist (root canal specialist) that I spoke with this week, he said that he’s still seeing the most extreme cases because of their level of pain.
Patients with problems that require immediate attention are putting off procedures to a future date, or their dental specialist is making that decision for them.
Although dental specialists seem to be feeling the heat too at much higher rates than other professions, general dentists seem to be taking the brunt of this economic disaster comparatively.
Dentist Income Loss by State
Overall it appears that dentists working on the coasts have taken the biggest hit.
Also note that fewer dentists in Southern and Southwestern states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona report losing their income completely.
This could be extra difficult for the affected dentists, as it appears dentists in higher cost areas are being hit the hardest.
These offices also have above average overhead compared with the rest of the nation. You would expect these dental offices to be at the greatest risk of failing financially.
Dentist Income Changes by Time in Profession
It appears that more tenured dentists have it even tougher than younger dentists financially right now.
This could be due to higher incidence of practice ownership among more tenured dentists.
Associates might get minimum daily guarantees or other employment protections. Owners can only produce income if their practice is open and performing services for patients.
Getting Help as a Dentist During the 2020 Economic Crisis
Clearly dentists need help financially. The data from our community of readers shows a much higher rate of financial loss compared to other professionals with similar levels of education.
Additionally, seeing that older dentists seem to be suffering more might imply that practice owners in particular are in significant distress in this business environment where they cannot perform elective procedures in many states.
If you have student loans, we can help with that, even though Congress appears to be making a plan to pause student loan payments for several months.
If you need financial assistance during this time, I’d highly suggest contacting your congressional representative and let him or her know what you’re dealing with as a dentist.
Are you surprised by these results? Want to see other demographic data from our study? Let me know below. Feel free to share what you’re going through right now too if you’re a dentist.