Defense Date

2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Dentistry

Department

Dentistry

First Advisor

Bhavna Shroff

Second Advisor

Steven Lindauer

Third Advisor

Caroline Carrico

Fourth Advisor

Vincent Sawicki

Abstract

Purpose: To determine what adaptations orthodontists made in their practices during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to safety recommendations and to determine which of these adaptations orthodontists plan to continue to implement after resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: An original 34-question survey was sent by mail to a randomized and geographically proportionate selection of actively practicing orthodontic specialists (N = 1000). Questions asked orthodontists about the changes they made during the pandemic in four overarching categories (infection control, social distancing, appliance use, and tele-orthodontics) and whether they anticipated keeping those changes post-pandemic. The data were compared between categorical responses using chi-squared and Fisher’s exact test as appropriate.

Results: 160 orthodontists responded to the survey from 38 states (16% response rate). Use of nearly all forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) were reported to be used at high percentages during the pandemic, with a significant decrease anticipated after the pandemic. 92% of orthodontists modified their aerosol protocol, with the most common modification during the pandemic and predicted after the pandemic being the use of an assistant with high volume suction (61% and 49% respectively). Ninety six percent of orthodontists changed their waiting room protocol during the pandemic to keep patients and parents outside the practice, but few plan to continue that practice (23%). Forty two percent of orthodontists increased the use of clear aligners during the pandemic and the main reason for doing so was due to patient demand (91%). The number of orthodontists who used tele-orthodontics increased from 8% prior to the pandemic to 68% during the pandemic and is expected to decrease significantly post-pandemic. Moving forward, virtual appointments are anticipated to be used for screening and consultations of new patients and monitoring of active patients in clear aligners, but not fixed appliances.

Conclusions: The orthodontic sector utilized many modifications to address the safety and infection control recommendations given during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the pandemic, use of enhanced PPE is expected to decrease and high-volume suction will likely be continued in many practices for aerosol-producing procedures. Less than half of orthodontists anticipate using tele-orthodontics in the future, but it will likely remain in use for virtual screenings and consultations as well as monitoring of clear aligners.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

5-4-2022

Available for download on Thursday, May 04, 2023

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