Nova Scotia

PPE use likely to push up the cost of your next dental visit in Nova Scotia

You will likely have to pay more at your next dental appointment in Nova Scotia to help cover the extra costs being shouldered by the profession to keep patients and staff safe from COVID-19. Whether private insurers agree to cover those costs is unclear.

Nova Scotia Dental Association working on suggested fee schedule for dentists

Dental assistant Feride Püsküllü works while wearing a protective facial visor on March 30, 2020, in Berlin. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Your next dental appointment may include a new surcharge to cover off the extra cost of personal protective equipment that dentists and their staff now have to use to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

How much you'll be asked to pay or how it will be added to the bill depends on individual circumstances, such as the number of people involved in a practice, how much suppliers are charging for their goods and how many patients or procedures are done daily, said Dr. Chad Avery, the new president of the Nova Scotia Dental Association.

"I think there is quite a variance in that," he said Monday from his clinic in Yarmouth, N.S. "I think different people are taking different strategies and that would be up to individual offices to determine."

At the clinic where he practises — the Yarmouth Dental Group — the fees haven't been finalized.

He said the association is trying to come up with a suggested fee schedule to guide dentists on what's reasonable.

Avery said the Canadian Dental Association has come up with a fee code and is working with private insurance companies to determine whether they will shoulder these new costs.

Dr. Chad Avery, the president of the Nova Scotia Dental Association, says how much extra patients will be asked to pay will depend on the individual circumstances facing dental practices. (Submitted by Penney Miller)

"That's certainly our hope, but we will see what happens in the coming weeks," said Avery.

Once those suggested fee guidelines are in place, Avery said his office will come up with PPE charges.

He said the problem is made worse by the fact personal protective equipment is in short supply — and costly.

Avery said for his office, he's seen that reusable gowns are costing anywhere from $25 to $60, while disposable ones are selling for $8 to $10.

"For any dental procedure, you need two of those," he said. "That's substantial extra costs for people that you throw in a garbage when you're done."

The Mic Mac Dental Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., is charging $5 to $10 dollars more for the use of extra protective equipment.

Avery called that "on the low end" of what Nova Scotia dentists are generally charging.