Some dentist offices in the Front Range are now charging patients for required PPE

Posted at 5:28 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 21:00:56-04

DENVER — Dentist offices across the state have started to reopen and are seeing patients again, but the cost of increased safety measures at places of business is now being passed to some patients across the Front Range.

“The differences between then and now are a lot in attire and what we have to wear, and procedures and protocols we have to go through before they make it into the office,” Dr. Craig Owens of 5280 Pediatric Dentistry in Parker told Denver7, describing operating his practice in the time of COVID-19.

In the name of safety, no patients are allowed in the waiting room, temperature checks are performed before a patient even enters the office, and those who see patients are required to wear addition personal protective equipment, or PPE.

“Extra masks, extra face shields, extra gowns,” Dr. Owens described, showing off the multiple layers of PPE he wears everyday.

Much of that attire is mandated by federal and state health officials. It’s also not cheap.

“The reality is there is an extra cost. Some of the statistics that have come out there is anywhere from a 10 to 30 times increase in cost per patient for the type of equipment that we are required to wear,” Dr. Owens said.

So some dentist offices are passing that cost along to patients. Denver7 was given an itemized bill for a recent cleaning from “Perfect Teeth” in Denver that includes a line for ‘COVID-19 PPE SUPPLIES’ for $10. Viewers online have reported charges at various dentists ranging from $5 to $25 per person per visit.

“No dentists are making a profit off of this,” Dr. Owens described. “We’re just trying to help with all the increased costs, just returning to work, we’re just trying to minimize the blow.”

The American Dental Association has asked insurance companies to step in and cover some of those extra PPE costs. According to Dr. Owens, only a few insurance companies are actually covering them and it is only for a brief period of time.

Just like the insurance companies, some offices are choosing to cover the expenses themselves, so it’s important you check with your provider.