Arizona dentists say wait for routine cleaning may be up to 4 months

As dental practices nationwide report staffing shortages and an increase in patient demand, some Tucson, Ariz.-based offices say it could take months for a new patient to be seen for a routine cleaning, CBS affiliate KOLD-TV reported Oct. 20.

National dental patient volume was at 89 percent in August, the highest level since March of 2020, according to the American Dental Association. However, dentists across the U.S. are also reporting significant staffing shortages, particularly among dental hygienists and assistants.

In Tucson, some practices are saying it could take up to four months for new patients to get in for a routine cleaning.

"For existing patients, we try to get them in as soon as possible, but for new patients most of the time it will be close to January before we can see them," Alexa Carrara Benzell, DDS, of Campbell Dental Group, told KOLD-TV. "We would normally be able to get a new patient in within the same month."

The area is also reporting staffing shortages.

"Dentistry is not a work-from-home situation. With child care issues, that made people more comfortable staying home but also some people with dentistry working on people, we're very up-close," Dr. Carrara Benzell said. "We're very exposed to a lot of things and some people aren't comfortable with that anymore and they looked for a different career."

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