Recruiting hygienists, assistants still challenging for practice owners

Most hygienists and assistants received wage increases in the past year


Dentists still face challenges in recruiting dental hygienists and dental assistants, despite the majority of responding owner dentists reporting that they have given hygienists and assistants a pay raise in the past year, according to the latest ADA Health Policy Institute emerging issues poll.

The poll of some 1,100 dentists conducted June 13-19 found that, among the approximately 1 in 3 dentists who have recently or are currently recruiting, 94.5% of respondents reported that recruiting dental hygienists remains very challenging or extremely challenging. Filling dental assistant positions also remains a challenge, with 83.7% reporting that they found it very challenging or extremely challenging to recruit dental assistants — about the same level as reported in last year’s polling.

About 4 in 5 responding owner dentists reported giving their dental hygienists and dental assistants a wage increase in the last year. When owner dentists were asked about the last wage increase offered to staff, the majority of wage increases for dental hygienists were in the range of 4-6% (34.6%); 14.8 percent reported giving wage increases of 7-9% and 22.8% reported a wage increase of 10% or more, while 27.7% reported a wage increase in the 1-3% range. For dental assistants, 41.3% of owner dentists gave wage increases of 4-6%; 15.7% reported giving wage increases of 7-9% and 21.4% reported raising wages for assistants 10% or more, while 21.6% offered a raise between 1-3%.

One in five respondents reported offering paid leave to hygienists and assistants. And the top three benefits they provided to their hygienists and assistants were dental benefits (92.6%), paid vacation (91.5%) and paid holidays (88.8%)

Other poll results found that:

• Dentists’ confidence in their practice, the dental care sector and the U.S. economy rose slightly.

• Appointment schedules were 88% full in June 2023 — the highest point since March 2022.

• Patient no-shows and late cancellations remain the most common factor for unfilled practices schedules.

To join the panel and read the full monthly reports, visit


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