Many dentists now charging patients extra for PPE

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The next time you visit the dentist, you may be paying extra for personal protective equipment.

As more dentists get back to work in Pennsylvania, they’re dealing with skyrocketing costs and demand for PPE. In a business where you’re inches away from patients, the protection is necessary.

Even before COVID-19, Dr. James Tauberg says dentists have worn personal protective equipment.

“I’m not aware of any real disease transmission from dental offices probably over the last 30 some years,” Tauberg said.

He’s the president of the Pennsyvlania Dental Association. Because of the virus, he now wears a respirator mask, surgical mask over that and a face shield.

“Now you also have a water resistant gown on, besides your gloves, besides possibly some type of head covering and shoe covering, so now what we’re doing is we’re working like we’re in the operating room,” Tauberg said.

That means disposable PPE for each patient. According to the American Dental Association, “They say you should be looking at roughly about a $27 charge,” Tauberg said. “I have seen everything from no charge to $5 to $50.”

Jeff Porr broke a tooth on Friday and got it fixed Thursday afternoon in Hershey.

“I told her my insurance is now gone because I retired so I don’t have eye and dental, so instead of charging the $50 for the PPE, today they charged me $20,” Porr said.

Poor said he didn’t notice any more PPE than they normally have, but his dentist told abc27 that not everything is seen, including disposable PPE, how they’re cleaning and the air purifiers they’re running.

“To say that we could absorb all this extraordinary cost for the personal protection equipment and continue to potentially do third-party payments, which are already discounted, it’s an impossibility,” Tauberg said.

Still, not everyone sees it like that.

“Personally, it’s the cost of doing business. If that’s what it costs, that’s what it costs,” Porr said.

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