The alarming lack of dental staff and the impact it could have on dentistry

Four dental professionals recently shared with Becker's what they feel is the most dangerous trend facing dentistry — the limited number of dental staff and providers. 

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What do you see as the most dangerous trend in dentistry?

Corey Anderson, DDS. Dentist at Affordable Dentures and Implants (Bridgeport, W.Va.): The most dangerous trend in dentistry from my perspective is a generational retirement of skilled dentists leaving the practice of dentistry in the very near future. Thousands of years of experience are leaving the practice of dentistry this year. There is a substantial training and experience gap with the dentists left in or entering the field. A large challenge to the profession will be to engage and challenge practicing dentists to hone skills and build new skills needed to treat increasingly complex dental needs.  

Olga Dubinsky, DMD. Dentist at Linden (N.J.) Dental Associates: I think the most challenging trend in dentistry is the lack of auxiliary staff. 

Alex Morrison. Chief Compliance Officer and Director of Logistics at Morrison Dental Group (Williamsburg, Va.): The most dangerous trend in dentistry is the continuing trend of lack of providers. Hygienists in particular, but as well as dentists. We simply don't make enough of either, we make it too hard to get a license and it costs too much to go to school to practice. This is a growth and access to care issue that could and should be avoided. Market forces being what they are, we are not seeing compensatory increases in reimbursements to offset the high labor costs of hygiene care, but more importantly the lack of providers limit the availability of providers to see an adequate number of patients to make an impact in availability. Disproportionately, rural areas are suffering at much higher levels than others, and the trend is not getting better. 

Michael Perpich, DDS. Dentist at Richfield Dentistry (Minneapolis): The most dangerous trend in dentistry is the workforce or lack thereof. No matter what type of practice you are in, the lack of dental assistants and hygienists are limiting our ability to take care of our patients!

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