Dental hygienists are in short supply. But they're hard to recruit.

Dental hygienists remain one of the hardest to recruit positions in dentistry, according to the American Dental Association.

The ADA conducted a survey the week of May 16 including responses from dentists working in private dental practices. Participants were asked "Have you recently or are you currently recruiting any of the following positions in your dental practice?" and "How challenging has it been to recruit the position(s)?" They were asked to answer the latter question using the following answers: extremely challenging, very challenging, moderately challenging, slightly challenging, not challenging at all or not sure/not applicable.

Of the dental professionals surveyed, 39.8 percent said they were actively recruiting dental hygienists. And 74.3 percent reported it being "extremely challenging."

So why are dental hygienists in such high demand and so difficult to recruit? Why did they leave in the first place?

"I think it's just hygienists being able to stand up for ourselves and say, 'Hey we want to be a part of this, too,'" Jess Giebel, professional education manager at OraPharma and dental hygienist, told Becker's on April 1. "We want to be able to have the autonomy to create that patient communication standpoint and be able to be that first line of defense and be as preventive as possible. I think a lot of it is just being able to empower the hygienists to really be a part of the team."

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