COVID-19: impacts on oral healthcare delivery in dependent older adults

Andrea Lundberg, Anne-Lena Hillebrecht, Gerry McKenna*, Murali Srinivasan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To evaluate the impacts of restrictions to provision of dental services for dependent older patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also aimed to crudely quantify the economic implications for a clinic delivering these services. Methods: Data was gathered on the number of dependent older patients treated, emergency treatment provided and the revenues generated in the Special Care and Geriatric Dentistry Clinic in the Centre of Dental Medicine at the University of Zurich during the current pandemic period. This data was compared with the recorded clinical activity from 1 year previously. Hypothetical projections were generated for the remainder of the current year based on the assumption that restrictions due to COVID-19 would remain throughout 2020. Results: A statistically significant decrease in the total number of dependent older patients treated was recorded during the periods January-March 2020 (p=0.026) and April-May 2020 (p=0.001) compared to 2019. According to projections, by December 2020 the clinic will be providing 81.14% less clinical activity compared to 2019 (p<0.0001), including a complete cessation of domiciliary services. Despite decreases in expenditure, revenues generated by the clinic have decreased significantly due to reduced clinical activity during January – March 2020 (p=0.268) and April-May 2020 (p=0.010) compared to 2019. The net operating profit for the clinic is projected as -899.61% by December 2020. Conclusions: The restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in a significant reduction in oral healthcare provision for dependent older adults. This has also had significant financial implications for the clinic. Clinical significance: (48/ 50 words): Provision of dental services for dependent older adults, including those in Long-term Care Facilities, has become increasingly challenging due to restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dental professionals must ensure that oral healthcare provision is restarted as soon as possible for this vulnerable group after restrictions are lifted.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted - 26 Oct 2020

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