The Pandemic Made Dental Staffing More Challenging

Dentistry Today

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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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