The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) continues to work closely with Abacus Data to track consumer/public opinion and behavioural trends related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wave 10 included additional questions on behaviours of Canadians without dental benefits, details on dental insurance, dental appointments and cancellations, and the progress towards dentistry habits returning to normal. Members of the public were surveyed between March 16 to 25, 2022.
COMFORT VISITING THE DENTIST
Our most recent survey indicated that respondents believed the Omicron variant was more contagious, but considered it less of a health risk. Consequently, worry about COVID-19 plummeted and concerns about transmission from a dental appointment dropped to an all-time low of 32%, with 80% of respondents feeling more comfortable visiting their dentist again.
FINANCIAL SITUATION DUE TO COVID-19
Sixteen per cent of respondents reported that their financial situation was harmed significantly by the pandemic, while 32% indicated that their financial situation has been harmed a moderate amount.
DENTAL VISITS SNAPSHOT
The intention to schedule a dental appointment was the highest since the start of the pandemic. Forty-four per cent of respondents indicated that they planned to schedule an appointment as soon as possible or very soon. Two-thirds planned to see their dentist within the next year—up 8% compared to December 2021.
CANCELLATIONS AND DENTIST CONSISTENCY
An estimated 13% of respondents tried booking a dental appointment over the last two months, and of those, 7% were not successful (i.e., about 1% of total respondents). The most common reason for booking an appointment was for dental cleanings.
Other highlights include:
INSURANCE AND BENEFITS
Three in 5 (68%) respondents currently have dental coverage benefits—most respondents indicated that their dental benefits were the same as before the pandemic. Fifteen per cent of respondents reported that their benefits worsened since the pandemic. Half of those without dental benefits have visited their dentist during the pandemic. Nearly a quarter (24%) of those with no dental benefits did not plan on visiting the dentist soon.
Nearly half of the respondents reported having dental insurance coverage through their employer or a family member’s employer, while 11% reported having government/public coverage. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents with employer-benefits would either struggle to afford dental care or would not be able to afford the care they typically receive
altogether if they lost their employer provided dental benefits. In particular, respondents with lower income, as well as women, seniors, those living in rural areas and in Atlantic provinces indicated that they would suffer most from benefits loss.
Stay tuned for WAVE 11: For the remainder of 2022, CDA plans on keeping core questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic for tracking purposes, while shifting its focus to other key issues facing dentistry.