The biggest challenges dental hygienists are facing

Sheela Roth, director of practice development at Pearl and a dental hygienist, recently spoke with Becker's to discuss the biggest challenges hygienists are facing.

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Sheela Roth: From what I've gathered over the last 10 years before, during and a little bit after COVID-19, is the shift into scarcity. There aren't enough hygienists. Because of that, the workload is leading to burnout. Because of the lack of hygienists in the market and the bounce back of the patients after COVID-19, most practices have seen a huge influx. We now are faced with hygienists seeing multiple patients at a time that are not being able to really allocate the real care that they're used to. That's really important for us, as a previous employer myself, to be mindful of. Also, [it's important] to provide them with resources, ways to help save them time and ways to help assist them if there's going to be less time in that appointment.

The other challenge that hygienists are facing now is because some dental practices have seen a slowdown. There are offices that are having hygienists cut shifts or clock out during a non-patient hour. In some states that works, in some states that does not. I remember interviewing quite a few hygienists, and stability was one thing that they were leaving their current employers for. I think, as a hygienist looking for a job, one of the biggest challenges is finding an office where you can practice ethically, competently and also have stability.

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