New data shows how hiring crisis has grown in dental industry

By Kevin Henry

Some new numbers from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute (HPI) are shining a light on just how much the hiring crisis in dentistry has grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to HPI data, the percentage of owner dentists who are looking for a dental hygienist for their practice has grown from 24 percent in October of 2020 to 32 percent of August of 2021. Additionally, those dentists looking to hire a dental assistant has grown from 32 percent to 39 percent during the same time period.

As we discussed in our recent article detailing three ways for your practice to not fall into the hiring crisis, some of the biggest issues contributing to the lack of dental team members available to practices can be traced back to the start of the pandemic when communication between dentists and teams during dentistry’s shutdown was spotty.

Now, along with other industries, dentistry is scrambling to find not only workers, but those who are qualified to deliver quality care.

Some other data tidbits from HPI include the following:

Patient volume in private practices was at 89% on average in August, the highest it has been since polling began in March 2020. 

Dentists’ confidence in pandemic recovery declined in August to the lowest it’s been since early 2021, possibly due to concerns related to recent COVID-19 Delta variant updates.

You can read more about the findings from HPI here.

Note: Dr. David Rice and I recently teamed up for an hour-long discussion on hiring and keeping quality team members broken into bite-sized pieces that you can find by clicking here and scrolling down on the page. You can even earn CE for watching the conversation. Thanks to our friends at Patterson Dental for making this opportunity a reality.

Additionally, if you are looking to fill an opening in your practice, we recently created a completely free and continuously updated partnership with our friends at where you can search job applicants in your area by clicking here.

Note: “help wanted” by Alachua County is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Kevin Henry

Kevin Henry

With more than 20 years in the dental publishing industry, Kevin Henry is the former group editorial director for Dental Products Report, managing editor for Dental Economics, and editor-in-chief for He now serves as the co-founder for IgniteDA, a community designed to empower, enlighten, and educate dental assistants, and as director of marketing for Fortune Management. He has spoken to dental assistants throughout the world, in person and through the Dental Assistant Nation podcast series, reminding them of the important role they play every day in their practice. He is also certified as a DiSC trainer, helping dental practices learn how to understand each other better through personality assessments and training.