Looking ahead to the New Normal in dentistry.


by Dr. Phillip Palmer, May 2020.

Estimated reading time: Approx. 3 - 4minutes. 

The world post-COVID19-Shutdown is and will be a different world to the one we left early this year. Things will not be returning to “normal” or as they once were.

The impact of the pandemic has left many deep impacts and changes in so many areas – thus creating a new normal ahead of us.

To name a few - for the general public, there’s the world economic outlook, consumer psychology, government employment incentives, and job losses for many people.  

For dentists and dental practices, the shutdowns have forced everyone to review and update their Infection Prevention and Control protocols, revise their workflows and patient management, revisit their communication with patients and explore other avenues of possibilities such as Teledentistry. Some practices may even have to re-build their teams.

Looking ahead, many are also questioning the dental landscape ahead…

  • Practice Values – how has the value of practices been affected? Is it a good time to be selling or buying a practice?
  • The type of dentistry that dentists will be doing from hereon – will it be different?
  • Hygienists - will patients still come in as they did before or will they be reticent?
  • Practice marketing – how should practices market themselves to their patients?
  • Infection Prevention protocols - Will protocol changes be applied as a standard or only for the interim period?
  • Service Fees - will practices be able to charge for the extra costs of doing business (PPE & slowing down of patient flow due to infection control)? Should they?
  • Discretionary dentistry vs the relief of pain - Will patients still consider (as per pre-COVID-19 shutdown) teeth whitening treatment, cosmetics options, orthodontics, etc - or will many revert to the mindset of only seeing the dentist when they are in pain?

There are so many questions, and so many theories. Some are predicting doom and gloom and a 1920s style depression, while others remain optimistic and foresee a very quick recovery with lots of pent-up demand from the enforced shutdown.

Regardless of where the road ahead takes us, worrying about it isn’t going to change anything. Instead, the dental profession, now more than ever, needs to step up and think outside the clinical box in planning for their recovery.

Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe” – Mark Twain.

This will be the new normal – and we all will have to adapt.  

So, what should dentists and practice owners do then?

Now more than ever before, you need to be pre-emptive rather than reactionary. Here’s a few things to help you get started…

  • Review your systems and start looking at ways to thrive once again.
  • Set your goals and map out your cash flow projections.
  • Lay out a 9-month business plan for your practice.
  • Reach out to your patients to check in on them.
  • Stay visible on social media.
  • Update your website to convey your new pre-screening protocols.
  • Ensure your team has each completed an infection prevention and control training to ensure everyone’s safety – and communicate it to your patients.
  • Explore if Teledentistry is a viable option for you and your practice.


Change, however scary or risky, is inevitable. What matters is how you plan and prepare for it.

There are challenges to contend with ahead in the new normal – but there is also a myriad of opportunities in the coming months, in all areas of dentistry.



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