The Pandemic Made Dental Staffing More Challenging

Dentistry Today


As society gradually returns to normal, dental practices are hiring again too, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI). But they’re facing a lot of challenges, according to the organization’s May 17 poll of 1,712 dentists.

The ADA HPI reports that 28.8% of dental practices are looking for dental hygienists, 35.8% are recruiting dental assistants, 13.1% are hiring dentists, and 26.5% are searching for administrative staff.

However, 66.3% of those who are recruiting said that looking for dental hygienists has been extremely challenging compared to before the pandemic. Similarly, 59.2% said the same about dental assistants, 32.2% said dentists were extremely challenging to find, and 44.0% were extremely challenged in their administrative staff searches.

The salaries of many of these employees are going up too compared to pre-pandemic paychecks, with 70.7% of practices giving raises to their hygienists, 73.1% increasing pay for assistants, 34.1% boosting the bottom lines of dentists, and 67.1% of administrative staff seeing more money.

But these expenses have to be paid for somehow. According to the poll, 27% of respondents said their practices were enrolled Medicaid providers prior to the pandemic. However, 8% of practices have disenrolled from Medicaid since the pandemic’s onset.

Fortunately, patients are more interested in aesthetics. The ADA HPI said that 10.1% of practices are providing more orthodontic treatment; 9.3% are providing more in-office whitening treatment; 9.7% are providing more whitening via over-the-counter products; and 10.7% are providing more other types of cosmetic treatments.

The pandemic drove more patients do-it-yourself dentistry too, which brought them into the dental office. The poll said that 22% of respondents treated patients who attempted DIY procedures while COVID-19 raged on. Also, 44.4% of these patients were whitening with home remedies, 15.9% were trying tooth extractions, and 70.1% involved other issues.

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