The lingering threat facing dentistry

Workforce shortages and hiring challenges continue to be one of the biggest threats to the dental industry, according to Barry Lyon, DDS. 

Dr. Lyon, a chief dental officer for the division of orthodontics and pediatric dentistry for Dental Care Alliance, recently spoke with Becker's about how hiring challenges are continuing to challenge the dental industry.

Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a weekly series featuring Dr. Lyon focused on topics in the dental industry and DSO field. This response was lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What threats are facing the dental industry today?

Dr. Barry Lyon: 2024 is half over and the global oral care market is projected to grow by 3.14% from 2024 to 2028, resulting in a market volume of $60.14 billion by 2028. This is a testament to the strength of the dental industry despite facing continuing threats.

We cannot underestimate the effects the pandemic had on dentistry, both negative and positive. Dentists continue to be confronted with the effects of the Great Resignation, and efforts to recruit, hire and retain office workers continue to plague dental offices across the country. As a result, wages have increased while profits have decreased. Whereas the pandemic resulted in increased demand for care, meeting that demand still challenges practically every dentist. Is the Great Resignation over? No, according to new research showing nearly 50% of people are considering leaving their jobs in 2024.

As thousands of recent dental school graduates enter the workforce, hiring dentists struggle to find candidates adequately prepared to meet their patient’s clinical needs. Not because they are poorly educated, but because they lack enough clinical opportunities to develop their skills. The rise of dental consumerism and the fact that the cost of care provided by a dental student has risen to near private practice levels have led to patients opting for the experienced clinician.

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