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Ascentcare Dental Products
Ascentcare Dental Products

Empty Dental Chairs

Not a Patient Problem, a Human Resource Problem

I was listening to The Very Dental Podcast the other day (episode title: “Hiring in the COVID Era”) and heard something that came as no surprise to me. In the current climate, dentists are struggling to find staff!

A recent ADA News article titled, “Understaffed and ready to hire, dentists face applicant shortages as they emerge from COVID-19 pandemic”, echoed the same reality.

According to the article, a poll conducted by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute shows that:

“Compared with before the pandemic, more than 80% of owner dentists who are currently hiring are finding the recruitment of dental hygienists and assistants to be extremely or very challenging.”

The job postings in my area were quite revealing

A few weeks ago, just out of curiosity, I browsed the job postings for dental hygienists on Here’s what I saw.

- Many of the ads were offering very high wages ($50+ an hour in some cases). Significantly higher than the wages being offered in my area before the pandemic.

- Some of the ads were offering sign-on bonuses. Something I’ve never personally seen in the dental world. My only experience with sign-on bonuses was in the military, which were used to encourage reenlistment. They worked. I reenlisted twice.

- Many of the ads strongly emphasized their strict COVID protocol, and some even seemed willing to purchase almost anything that the applicant needed to make them feel more comfortable.

But as interesting as the podcast episode, the ADA article and the job postings were, I didn’t really need to see or hear any of it to know what was happening. It was painfully obvious.

My former employer needed a hygienist to cover ASAP

On a recent Saturday morning, I went to visit a former employer who was testing a product for me. When I walked into the office, I noticed she was working alone. Her only assistant called out and her front desk person left early!

A few days later, I sent her a text asking if she needed help with hygiene on Saturdays. She said no, but she desperately needed a hygienist to cover an upcoming maternity leave. I agreed to cover. She was beyond happy and relieved.

I left clinical hygiene in May 2020 (not COVID related), but I’ve been itching to return for the last few months. This was the perfect opportunity to jump back in and help out a friend at the same time.

A friend bought her own practice and needed a hygienist

Another great dentist I worked with in the past recently bought an existing practice and had the place completely renovated. After too many construction delays, she finally started seeing patients 2 months ago. I swung by for a visit to check it out.

Like many dentists, she was struggling to find staff, including a hygienist. She was really hoping to find someone soon. With my plans to come back and her need for a hygienist, well, you guessed it. I’m now part the team. Things worked out perfectly.

But sadly, things are not working out perfectly for too many dentists out there who are still struggling to find staff.

Why is this happening?

The shortage seems to be driven primarily by COVID, but in different ways. For example:

- Generous unemployment benefits (this may be delaying some returns back to the workforce)

- COVID concerns (people have different risk tolerances or their risk tolerance changed during the pandemic)

- Early retirements (COVID was the catalyst for some to leave the workforce earlier than planned)

- Child care availability (~96% of hygienists are female)

- Lifestyle decisions (some decided they like and can afford to be home)

How can dental employers overcome this?

Unfortunately, there is not much a single dental employer can do to overcome most of the things listed above, but there is one. You can help reduce your staff’s (or potential staff’s) concern about the COVID virus by implementing aerosol reducing technology.

AscentCare Dental offers two great products that are designed to help significantly reduce aerosols in the dental environment. The VacuLUX HVE Isolation System and the VacuVUE HVE Dental Mirror.

Both products are designed to capture aerosols at the source (oral cavity), which in turn, allows other controls (PPE, ventilation systems, vaccines, etc.) to play the important backup role instead.

But reducing aerosols is only one of many benefits the VacuLUX HVE Isolation System and VacuVUE HVE Dental Mirror can provide.

They also provide airway protection (VacuLUX), isolation, retraction, and continuous HVE evacuation. This results in higher quality dentistry and reduced procedure times.

As a single dental employer, you may not have the power to affect generous unemployment benefits, early retirements, child care availability and lifestyle decisions, but you do have the power to help reduce aerosols.

Check out the VacuLUX Isolation System and VacuVUE HVE Dental Mirror today and see what they can do for you and your staff. Your only regret will be, “Why didn’t I do this sooner!”

Mark Frias, RDH


The Very Dental Podcast: Hiring in the COVID Era

Understaffed and ready to hire, dentists face applicant shortages as they emerge from COVID-19 pandemic

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