It’s no secret that the U.S. has been facing staffing shortages since the COVID-19 pandemic, but one industry has faced a substantial shortage that could have a serious impact on American health: the dental industry. Since the pandemic, shortages in the dental health industry have grown exponentially. How will this shortage affect your ability to get dental care?
Impact of Dental Staffing Shortages
Since the pandemic, we have seen shortages in every industry. A recent study released by the American Dental Association found that post-pandemic about 30% of hygienists left the industry. About 20% of those that will not return expressed workplace safety concerns. About 16% will no longer practice because of high-risk family members, and there were about 40% who were near retirement age and decided to retire now.
With about 30% of the hygienists not returning, what happens to the patients? Dental hygienists are paraprofessionals that are tasked with everything from dental cleaning to assisting during surgery. In some states, a dental hygienist will place fillings and more. The impact of this shortage has been felt far and wide across the United States, including Mississippi.
What Can You Do to Navigate This Shortage
Dental care is essential to overall health. There are a few things you can do while the shortage of hygienists gets sorted out. First, plan way ahead. If you know you are due for an exam in four months, make an appointment now. This is especially important if you need an orthodontist appointment because only 5% of dentists are orthodontists.
Be extra diligent about oral hygiene at home. Taking better care of your teeth during this crisis will help you to avoid any emergencies. Finally, be patient. Things will work themselves out. New classes of dental hygienists are graduating every year and entering the profession.
If your dentist cannot accommodate you in an emergency, maybe you need to find a new dentist. Dental emergencies need to be addressed. Finding a dentist to manage the emergency may be easier than you think, even with the short staffing problems.
How to Find a Dentist
You are a few clicks away from finding a dentist that will manage your emergency. There are about 1.8 billion websites that are in operation every day globally, and many of them can help you find dentists in your area that accept your insurance. Get online and start calling the local office to learn more about availability.
A good dentist will accept a new patient in an emergency, get them out of pain, and come up with a treatment plan that will improve oral health. While there is a shortage of hygienists, there are many hygienists still out there every day taking care of patients.