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Dental Assisting Profession is Disappearing

Cold Front

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For the last couple of years, few dentist friends of mine complained about paying their dental assistants too high ($25+/hr) and how there is a shortage of DAs in their cities, mostly in the Midwest.

So out of curiosity, I looked up the trends in the DA profession. In a nutshell, there has been shortage of DAs and their supply will continue to get decrease in the future as the rate of of new offices continue to increase (mostly from corporate dentistry) and a record numbers of new dentists graduate.

The current ratio of practicing dentists to DAs is 1:2.2, while the ratio of new dentists to new DAs is 1:0.78 (see image below). Essentially, young DAs are fleeing, not interested and declining in great numbers in the profession. The number of DAs graduating today are down 35% from their peak 20 yrs ago. The number of DA applicants are also down, and as a result many DA programs had to close their doors across the country - while at the same time, new dental schools opened in recent years and more future dental schools are considered.

I also think the gig economy had an effect on the DA profession, in which temporary positions are common and corporations hire workers for short-term commitments. A lot of DA new grads don’t actually end up working at a dental office and explore other professions with better financial expectations after they complete DA schools. Also, America’s job market has evolved, with many companies now offering a comparable decent paying jobs with good benefits and no educational requirement. Up until covid19 pandemic, the youth had so many job opportunities and options.

10 yrs ago, I use to see DAs dropping their resumes at my office for an interview. Yes, that was around the last Great Recession and the job market was really bad. But in today’s recession, covid19 is having the opposite effect and caused any interest in a DA profession feel even more disconnected with all the new CDC guidelines and risks of the pandemic at a dental office.

Young dentists should be mindful of this trend, as they will see this trend at a more visible level.

93-A36-BE2-2-ED2-41-EF-B621-D987741-D5099.jpg
 
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Looks like the dip started around 2011. Wasn't that the time a certain Ohio dentist who frequents sdn alot started to offer DA classes in his office? I mean ... if said dentist had a somewhat negative, doom and gloom attitude about dentistry. Maybe the DAs got the hint and looked for another profession.

:D
 
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lwergod

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the increase in dentists/mid-level ratio is likely what's behind the increase in overhead.

even the dentist/hygienist ratio is too high...

sad state of affairs when the American Dental Hygiene Association probably lobbies harder to protect their job than the ADA does for dentistry.
 
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Cold Front

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Looks like the dip started around 2011. Wasn't that the time a certain Ohio dentist who frequents sdn alot started to offer DA classes in his office? I mean ... if said dentist had a somewhat negative, doom and gloom attitude about dentistry. Maybe the DAs got the hint and looked for another profession.

:D

Haha. Teaching 3 DA’s a month isn’t going negate the trend. It’s better than teaching at a dental school, financially.
 

Cold Front

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the increase in dentists/mid-level ratio is likely what's behind the increase in overhead.

even the dentist/hygienist ratio is too high...

sad state of affairs when the American Dental Hygiene Association probably lobbies harder to protect their job than the ADA does for dentistry.

I agree. Hygienists are more united and organized than dentists.

Another wrinkle in the dental profession, lab tech numbers have been stagnant for the past couple of decades - thanks to more dentists using labs based in China. You won’t see young American lab techs in the future. All the US based lab techs I know are over age 55/60.
 
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allDAT

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As much as I hate to admit it, being a DA sucks. The pay is too low, you are on your feet most of the day, you handle sharps and other contaminated items, the benefits are limited or non-existent, most dentists treat staff poorly, and there’s no room to grow within the practice (it’s a dead end job).

Since dental insurance hasn’t kept up with inflation, it’s put dentists in a very difficult position when it comes to hiring support staff and that’s trickled through to the DAs, and now it’s very hard to find good ones.
 
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Captain Underplants

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As much as I hate to admit it, being a DA sucks. The pay is too low, you are on your feet most of the day, you handle sharps and other contaminated items, the benefits are limited or non-existent, most dentists treat staff poorly, and there’s no room to grow within the practice (it’s a dead end job).

Since dental insurance hasn’t kept up with inflation, it’s put dentists in a very difficult position when it comes to hiring support staff and that’s trickled through to the DAs, and now it’s very hard to find good ones.
Agreed, being a DA sucks; you're expected to do everything and when you're not busy, to be helping out in other "chores" around the clinic such as reception or phones, it's the equivilant of being the middle child of a family, not young enough to have limited responsiiblites (front desk), and not old enough to get the good work (Hygiene).

So you're stuck on your feet doing all the work for what a Costco employee makes minus the benefits. the only saving grace of DA is that it looks good on a resume if you apply for Hygiene or Dental school, otherwise it really is not a "career" at some point when you ask for $25+ you'll be asked to leave and the dentist can find a new sucker to train for $16 (and by that I mean have the other assistants train them).
 
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@coldfront

One thing I've noticed on these forums, and i have only been on here for a couple of hours: you make it seem like the sky is falling, on predents, dental students, dental professional in practice.

No profession/field of work is as nice as it "used to be" for the most part.

So chill man.
 
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allDAT

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$25+ an hour? That $50,000 + a year. Most people coming out of college aren’t making that.

it usually works out to $25 x 8hrs/day x 4 days/week x 48 weeks/year ... so around $38,400/year with usually no benefits.

And $23-28/hr are for more experienced RDAs, the entry level are usually around 19-22 in most parts of CA. Higher within city limits of SF and other higher cost of living areas.
 

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An EFDA is amazing to have at the office. They increase efficiency in the office tremendously. The dentist can focus on profitable procedures while the EFDA can take care of other stuff like temporizing or recementing temps. Easily worth $25hr


but you can teach a monkey to do those things... not worth 25/hr.
 
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@coldfront

One thing I've noticed on these forums, and i have only been on here for a couple of hours: you make it seem like the sky is falling, on predents, dental students, dental professional in practice.

No profession/field of work is as nice as it "used to be" for the most part.

So chill man.
dude, you hit the nail right on the head with your opening statement. You really have only been here a couple hours. CF, while he may assume a slight 'doom and gloom' view, it is only because he has been practicing for about a decade and has a very keen sense of synthesizing his observations in the real world, combines it with his following of the latest literature (presumably dental studies from the ada/adea/whoever).

telling him to chill is detrimental for everyone on this board. I don't simp in my personal life to any entity, be it females/friends etc. But, I got to hype up CF (hype is the better word choice). He is a great resource, calm and rational, He really knows the field, the finacnials, the trends, the private equity sector and its plans, migration/demographic changes. I could go on, but I don't know your position in this dental sojourn, but if you are a pre-dent, oh boy, this is not the attitude you want, mate.

It's getting tougher every day for the next pool of pre-dents/prospective students. The louder we complain (which is to usually beat it into all of your heads what the reality will be) the more dismissive some pre-dents can be.

moreover, the mental gymnastics they use to justify their claims ends up with the funniest implementation and understanding of debt, the financial system, personal finance and the sheer difficulty of actually being successful in this field and/or any for that matter.

God speed, anon
 
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dentaldiaries

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dude, you hit the nail right on the head with your opening statement. You really have only been here a couple hours. CF, while he may assume a slight 'doom and gloom' view, it is only because he has been practicing for about a decade and has a very keen sense of synthesizing his observations in the real world, combines it with his following of the latest literature (presumably dental studies from the ada/adea/whoever).

telling him to chill is detrimental for everyone on this board. I don't simp in my personal life to any entity, be it females/friends etc. But, I got to hype up CF (hype is the better word choice). He is a great resource, calm and rational, He really knows the field, the finacnials, the trends, the private equity sector and its plans, migration/demographic changes. I could go on, but I don't know your position in this dental sojourn, but if you are a pre-dent, oh boy, this is not the attitude you want, mate.

It's getting tougher every day for the next pool of pre-dents/prospective students. The louder we complain (which is to usually beat it into all of your heads what the reality will be) the more dismissive some pre-dents can be.

moreover, the mental gymnastics they use to justify their claims ends up with the funniest implementation and understanding of debt, the financial system, personal finance and the sheer difficulty of actually being successful in this field and/or any for that matter.

God speed, anon
still needs to chill. and his "expertise" is just one person's experience. people aren't idiots, and one persons constant forum posts aren't going to change their minds if they are oblivious.
 
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but you can teach a monkey to do those things... not worth 25/hr.
Here in CA, the RDAEF are allowed to perform certain produres that the regular DA's are not allowed to. These RDAEF's have to take and pass an additional exam. The assistants who assist orthodontists are required to have the RDA license as well. All of my chairside asisstants have RDA licenses and they get paid more than the regular DA's. My regular DA is only allowed perform simple tasks like sterilizing instruments and clean operatory after each patient treatment. CA has very strict rule. I heard that in other states, RDA license is not required for ortho assisting.
 
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During this Covid pandemic, I have to lay off 2 of my 6 P/T assistants because I have to book fewer patients in a day (in order to maintain social distancing) and because I want to reduce the overhead. And for the P/T assistants who came back to work after the shutdown, I have to reduce their hours as well. The only person that has to work harder and longer hours is me. A lot of assistants have been laid off at many of my referring GP offices as well.
 

Cold Front

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still needs to chill. and his "expertise" is just one person's experience. people aren't idiots, and one persons constant forum posts aren't going to change their minds if they are oblivious.

I see a good baseline from a number of people who recently joined SDN trying to single out my perspective on the field. It’s not a question if I speak for the dental profession or merely pushing an agenda on these forums - but there are few members/dentists on these boards who are seasoned as me, if not more, and in agreement that there has been problems with dentistry, stretching back years and decades from the time they finished school. So there is a collective thinking and voice (which I’m part of) that shares details of these problems; from high tuition and fees schools to insurance reimbursement crisis and the general outlook of the profession. These issues are something that affect pre-dents and practicing dentists today and beyond. If you don’t like my interpretation of the issues, by all means, make your case and skip the finger pointing.

Personally, I’m less of a dentist today than I was few years ago - and focused on other businesses and work that I enjoy more than dentistry. Nonetheless, I still enjoy being resourceful to anyone who is pursuing a career in dentistry. Not by scaring them, but by informing them about the realities of the profession. You said it yourself, pre-dents are not idiots, and they don’t read my posts from a position to change their goals, but merely from a perspective to reading more in what they already know.

But more power to you for protesting.
 
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dentaldiaries

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I see a good baseline from a number of people who recently joined SDN trying to single out my perspective on the field. It’s not a question if I speak for the dental profession or merely pushing an agenda on these forums - but there are few members/dentists on these boards who are seasoned as me, if not more, and in agreement that there has been problems with dentistry, stretching back years and decades from the time they finished school. So there is a collective thinking and voice (which I’m part of) that shares details of these problems; from high tuition and fees schools to insurance reimbursement crisis and the general outlook of the profession. These issues are something that affect pre-dents and practicing dentists today and beyond. If you don’t like my interpretation of the issues, by all means, make your case and skip the finger pointing.

Personally, I’m less of a dentist today than I was few years ago - and focused on other businesses and work that I enjoy more than dentistry. Nonetheless, I still enjoy being resourceful to anyone who is pursuing a career in dentistry. Not by scaring them, but by informing them about the realities of the profession. You said it yourself, pre-dents are not idiots, and they don’t read my posts from a position to change their goals, but merely from a perspective to reading more in what they already know.

But more power to you for protesting.
The fact that you spent so much time writing that out, is why I fundamentally believe your perpetual threads year after year drown out the voices of many others.

But yes, gold star on wit
 
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Cold Front

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The fact that you spent so much time writing that out, is why I fundamentally believe your perpetual threads year after year drown out the voices of many others.

But yes, gold star on wit

Do you have a resentment going back years that make you wish you took my posts about dentistry more seriously? A lot of people write long posts to elaborate their point. But, ok!. Your passive trolling is working to stay off topic.
 
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The fact that you spent so much time writing that out, is why I fundamentally believe your perpetual threads year after year drown out the voices of many others.

But yes, gold star on wit

You created a whole ass SDN account just to troll cold front. It's a bad look chief.

Would you like some fries with that salt?
 
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deleted954913

I see a good baseline from a number of people who recently joined SDN trying to single out my perspective on the field. It’s not a question if I speak for the dental profession or merely pushing an agenda on these forums - but there are few members/dentists on these boards who are seasoned as me, if not more, and in agreement that there has been problems with dentistry, stretching back years and decades from the time they finished school. So there is a collective thinking and voice (which I’m part of) that shares details of these problems; from high tuition and fees schools to insurance reimbursement crisis and the general outlook of the profession. These issues are something that affect pre-dents and practicing dentists today and beyond. If you don’t like my interpretation of the issues, by all means, make your case and skip the finger pointing.

Personally, I’m less of a dentist today than I was few years ago - and focused on other businesses and work that I enjoy more than dentistry. Nonetheless, I still enjoy being resourceful to anyone who is pursuing a career in dentistry. Not by scaring them, but by informing them about the realities of the profession. You said it yourself, pre-dents are not idiots, and they don’t read my posts from a position to change their goals, but merely from a perspective to reading more in what they already know.

But more power to you for protesting.
my liege, did you sleep with that dudes wife or something? The butt-hurt is intense.
 
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PerioDont

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Wondering if this thread is more relevant today than when I initially started it a year ago.

Many DentalTown dentists are complaining about a shortage of dental assistants daily. Some are even paying assistants about $70k a year including benefits.
Its crazy.

Hygienists are getting better offers than many associate dentists as well right now.
 
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it’s terrible unless you’re in a small town.

Or working at a FQHC. I have been in really big cities and never looked longer than 2 weeks for an awesome assistant. But, that is because assistants often look at big clinics first and the clinics often have a long reach with advertising for open positions.

As for friends in private practice (west coast states): I hear its been a little more difficult recently but not impossible by any means.
 

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Yup. It's bad. I live in a highly regulated state where you need a million exams and licenses to be an RDA. There are only like 6 DA programs out there and none of them train people to be RDAs. . It's nearly all self-study to get to that point. I don't even know where or how to start to do anything about it. From what I've heard, the dental society is pretty complacent about the issue. The pattern I see in my area is that lost HS grads go to community college just to have somewhere to go, they major in "Health Sciences" or something else generic and then they start planning how to become a nurse. Dental Assisting isn't even at the table so we're missing out on a chance to even let people know it can be a career option.
 
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Cold Front

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Or working at a FQHC. I have been in really big cities and never looked longer than 2 weeks for an awesome assistant. But, that is because assistants often look at big clinics first and the clinics often have a long reach with advertising for open positions.

As for friends in private practice (west coast states): I hear its been a little more difficult recently but not impossible by any means.

I agree it’s getting more difficult to find DA’s, but higher wages is the only remedy in both near and long term outlook.

Fast food chains, grocery chains, amazon, etc are all paying higher wages that the average DA salary. Yes, it’s cute to work in a dental office and have a stable job, but when inflation is eating into DA’s bank account, they will demand higher wages from their dental employer (and benefits). It hasn’t impacted young dentists who want to open a new office who want reasonable profit margins in most markets yet, but I see it coming.

So you will have less DA’s per dentist workforce moving forward + more payroll expenses to keep DA’s and fend off both dental and non-dental competition.

I hope I’m wrong, but the data supports this.
 
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Cold Front

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Yup. It's bad. I live in a highly regulated state where you need a million exams and licenses to be an RDA. There are only like 6 DA programs out there and none of them train people to be RDAs. . It's nearly all self-study to get to that point. I don't even know where or how to start to do anything about it. From what I've heard, the dental society is pretty complacent about the issue. The pattern I see in my area is that lost HS grads go to community college just to have somewhere to go, they major in "Health Sciences" or something else generic and then they start planning how to become a nurse. Dental Assisting isn't even at the table so we're missing out on a chance to even let people know it can be a career option.

You live in MN or NJ? Those are the worst states to find a DA now.

I live in a DA friendly state. I started a DA program inside my office couple of years ago, and it comes with a dental radiology certification. It’s part of a federal funding for local job centers to help retrain people into a new workforce. They pay very generous to cover tuition and fees. When the students graduate, they work at my offices or local dentist friends offices. For me, this is an insurance policy, as I’ve seen the DA shortage coming few years back. I received couple of emails this morning from other local dentists looking full time DA’s from my program. They didn’t even ask the level of training I provide, they just want any kind of help at this point.
 

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You live in MN or NJ? Those are the worst states to find a DA now.

Nailed it. I just remembered that community college is free for families that make under a certain amount. So a lot of lost HS grads have no reason to look for a job or career path after high school since the push is to go to college and if college is free, why not?
 
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Wondering if this thread is more relevant today than when I initially started it a year ago.

Many DentalTown dentists are complaining about a shortage of dental assistants daily. Some are even paying assistants about $70k a year including benefits.
Do you know why there is a problem with the shortage of assistants in some states? Did the assistants leave dentistry and pursue an entirely different career? Is it because the dental assistant jobs don’t pay them high enough? IMO, getting paid $40-$50k a year working as a dental assistant is pretty good. There are not lot of jobs out there that pay that much for not having a college degree.

We don’t have this shortage problem in CA. It’ actually the opposite. We actually have a surplus of dental and ortho assistants. Last week, I got this text message from one of my P/T assistants. She has been gone for more than 1 yr and had received unemployment checks. Now, she wants to return to work but I already have enough staff.

Message+.jpg
 
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Nailed it. I just remembered that community college is free for families that make under a certain amount. So a lot of lost HS grads have no reason to look for a job or career path after high school since the push is to go to college and if college is free, why not?
It was also free for going to a 4 yr public university if you are from a low income family. I wonder if it’s still free today. When my sister and I went to UC Irvine (a 4 year public university), we didn’t have to take out any loan. Our parents didn’t have good income; therefore, we both received the grant money, which was almost enough to cover the tuition. With the grant money, I only had to pay around $100-120 per quarter for tuition and my P/T job helped take care of that. We lived with our parents so everything was free.
 

gryffindor

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It was also free for going to a 4 yr public university if you are from a low income family. I wonder if it’s still free today. When my sister and I went to UC Irvine (a 4 year public university), we didn’t have to take out any loan. Our parents didn’t have good income; therefore, we both received the grant money, which was almost enough to cover the tuition. With the grant money, I only had to pay around $100-120 per quarter for tuition and my P/T job helped take care of that. We lived with our parents so everything was free.

Those grants probably still exist but it is more effort to get into a 4 year college compared to community college. Our pool of potential ortho/dental assistants are more likely to come from the group heading to community college and not the group going to a 4 year college. All the college students I have that assist in the clinic want to go to dental school.
 

Cold Front

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Do you know why there is a problem with the shortage of assistants in some states? Did the assistants leave dentistry and pursue an entirely different career? Is it because the dental assistant jobs don’t pay them high enough? IMO, getting paid $40-$50k a year working as a dental assistant is pretty good. There are not lot of jobs out there that pay that much for not having a college degree.

We don’t have this shortage problem in CA. It’ actually the opposite. We actually have a surplus of dental and ortho assistants. Last week, I got this text message from one of my P/T assistants. She has been gone for more than 1 yr and had received unemployment checks. Now, she wants to return to work but I already have enough staff.

View attachment 340488

I can’t speak for California, but currently 1 in 3 dentists are looking for a dental assistant across the country. Even the ADA published an article on the issue last month. Understaffed and ready to hire, dentists face applicant shortages as they emerge from COVID-19 pandemic

There are many jobs paying $40-50k a year. Many are warehouse jobs, restaurants, and what most people consider dead end jobs.

There was a recent article that said “Texas fast food chain offering $50k a year to teenagers”. Texas chicken chain offering $50K jobs to teenage managers

Many big cities have $15-20 minimum wages and they are always hiring. That’s $40-50k a year with benefits. Chicago Minimum Wage Increases to $15 an Hour Thursday

Dental assistants income is primarily dictated by their employer who owns the private practice that has 60-70% overhead. The owner himself/herself wants to make more because the dental insurances refuse to raise reimbursements. Patients who want to pay out of pocket for services are usually less than 20-30% of all patients. So for most solo practice owners, there has to be some sacrifices that needs to be made in their payroll to pay dental assistants more. If not, the competition is constantly posting attractive compensation on job websites that will eventually get their DA’s attention. Social media is also how DA’s discuss their newly found high demand and they are getting better asking for a raise or better wages to perspective employers.
 

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I can’t speak for California, but currently 1 in 3 dentists are looking for a dental assistant across the country. Even the ADA published an article on the issue last month. Understaffed and ready to hire, dentists face applicant shortages as they emerge from COVID-19 pandemic

There are many jobs paying $40-50k a year. Many are warehouse jobs, restaurants, and what most people consider dead end jobs.

There was a recent article that said “Texas fast food chain offering $50k a year to teenagers”. Texas chicken chain offering $50K jobs to teenage managers

Many big cities have $15-20 minimum wages and they are always hiring. That’s $40-50k a year with benefits. Chicago Minimum Wage Increases to $15 an Hour Thursday

Dental assistants income is primarily dictated by their employer who owns the private practice that has 60-70% overhead. The owner himself/herself wants to make more because the dental insurances refuse to raise reimbursements. Patients who want to pay out of pocket for services are usually less than 20-30% of all patients. So for most solo practice owners, there has to be some sacrifices that needs to be made in their payroll to pay dental assistants more. If not, the competition is constantly posting attractive compensation on job websites that will eventually get their DA’s attention. Social media is also how DA’s discuss their newly found high demand and they are getting better asking for a raise or better wages to perspective employers.
Yep its been a nightmare for me and most everyone around here in the midwest trying to find a DA, no one is applying. In all honesty the reality the 50K a year for a DA is on the high end and I suspect not the norm, not to mention you may make 25 an hour but dentist will cut your hours send you home on short days, and then the benefits, they either are nonexistent or suck compared to other industries, where they get paid time off. Frankly there are is just too much competition for the labor pool, we have more and more dentist graduating and DSO grabbing up staff, and then there is all the other industries DA can choose to go work at with potential for upward movement unlike DA which is a deadend.
 
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Yep its been a nightmare for me and most everyone around here in the midwest trying to find a DA, no one is applying. In all honesty the reality the 50K a year for a DA is on the high end and I suspect not the norm, not to mention you may make 25 an hour but dentist will cut your hours send you home on short days, and then the benefits, they either are nonexistent or suck compared to other industries, where they get paid time off. Frankly there are is just too much competition for the labor pool, we have more and more dentist graduating and DSO grabbing up staff, and then there is all the other industries DA can choose to go work at with potential for upward movement unlike DA which is a deadend.


I pretty much agree with this.
 

allDAT

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Can we honestly ask ourselves why would anyone want to be a DA or RDA right now? I can’t think of any reason to recommend the job to anyone unless they’re a mom looking for a few days a week to supplement their family income with hours conducive to school. But …. Most offices have moved away from such friendly hours.
 

DDS9994

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Can we honestly ask ourselves why would anyone want to be a DA or RDA right now? I can’t think of any reason to recommend the job to anyone unless they’re a mom looking for a few days a week to supplement their family income with hours conducive to school. But …. Most offices have moved away from such friendly hours.
Spot on, we used to be able to flaunt " flexible and family friendly hours" now everyone around me works till 7 pm and at least 2 saturdays a month. More and more DS are opening and graduating dentists, its gonna come to a head at some point. Last year every dentist I know predicted we would have a glut of hygienist and DA knocking at our doors, after COVID ended they would come back begging. Well they got it wrong big time, instead we got so busy we actually needed the hygienist to come back, and now in some places they are asking 60 + an hour. Some say the extra unemployment both fed and State is directly competing and now with the child credit of up to 300 bucks a month per kid showing up in bank accounts, many are making just as much staying home. Like it or not this is the reality all around.
 
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Jul 10, 2007
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  1. Dentist
Yep its been a nightmare for me and most everyone around here in the midwest trying to find a DA, no one is applying. In all honesty the reality the 50K a year for a DA is on the high end and I suspect not the norm, not to mention you may make 25 an hour but dentist will cut your hours send you home on short days, and then the benefits, they either are nonexistent or suck compared to other industries, where they get paid time off. Frankly there are is just too much competition for the labor pool, we have more and more dentist graduating and DSO grabbing up staff, and then there is all the other industries DA can choose to go work at with potential for upward movement unlike DA which is a deadend.
If you don’t want to lose good assistants, you have to pay and treat them well. You don’t cut their hours and send them home early. When you have to cut their hours, this means that your office is not busy enough. And if your office is not busy enough and your assistants are standing around doing nothing, then your office is overstaffed…..then you don’t need to hire that many assistants.

Isn’t it also a good thing if the opposite happens? Your office is too busy that you desperately need to hire more new assistants to help you. Isn’t having a busy office with fully booked days the dream of every dentist owner? If dental treatment is in high demand and your patients have to wait in line to see you, then why not just raise the treatment fee and use the extra earning to pay your assistants a higher salary? I don’t think you should have any problem finding assistants if you offer them good salary. Any person with a HS diploma would love to get paid $20-25/hr working as an asisstant. You can train that person to become your good DA if your state doesn't require any special license for working as an assistant.
 
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  1. Dentist
Can we honestly ask ourselves why would anyone want to be a DA or RDA right now? I can’t think of any reason to recommend the job to anyone unless they’re a mom looking for a few days a week to supplement their family income with hours conducive to school. But …. Most offices have moved away from such friendly hours.
If dental assistant job is so horrible that no one wants to work in a dental field, then this is good for the assistants who still want to work in this field. They can use this assistant shortage crisis problem to demand their dentist bosses to pay them more. They can move to a state that has assistant shortage problem to make more money. It’s the law of supply and demand.

It’s hard to leave this beautiful CA state. People don’t mind getting a significant pay cut so they can live here in CA. I guess this is why we, dentists, don’t have any problem looking for assistants here in CA.
 

DDS9994

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If you don’t want to lose good assistants, you have to pay and treat them well. You don’t cut their hours and send them home early. When you have to cut their hours, this means that your office is not busy enough. And if your office is not busy enough and your assistants are standing around doing nothing, then your office is overstaffed…..then you don’t need to hire that many assistants.

Isn’t it also a good thing if the opposite happens? Your office is too busy that you desperately need to hire more new assistants to help you. Isn’t having a busy office with fully booked days the dream of every dentist owner? If dental treatment is in high demand and your patients have to wait in line to see you, then why not just raise the treatment fee and use the extra earning to pay your assistants a higher salary? I don’t think you should have any problem finding assistants if you offer them good salary. Any person with a HS diploma would love to get paid $20-25/hr working as an asisstant. You can train that person to become your good DA if your state doesn't require any special license for working as an assistant.
I know all that, I am saying this is the reason you dont see as many entering the the dental assisting field, trust me everyone is offering competitve pay here people simply arent applying, my applications have been bone dry for the last 2 months, before that 1 out of every 2 applicants dont even show up. 20 to 25 is what we are paying here and Im in the midwest with a much lower cost of living than SoCal. To be honest you are the only person I have come across thats not seeing this issue as a dentist, every dentist in person I talk to and online is complaining about this issue.
 
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Spot on, we used to be able to flaunt " flexible and family friendly hours" now everyone around me works till 7 pm and at least 2 saturdays a month. More and more DS are opening and graduating dentists, its gonna come to a head at some point. Last year every dentist I know predicted we would have a glut of hygienist and DA knocking at our doors, after COVID ended they would come back begging. Well they got it wrong big time, instead we got so busy we actually needed the hygienist to come back, and now in some places they are asking 60 + an hour. Some say the extra unemployment both fed and State is directly competing and now with the child credit of up to 300 bucks a month per kid showing up in bank accounts, many are making just as much staying home. Like it or not this is the reality all around.
The relief fund will eventually run out and people will have get out of their house to find work again. When that happens, you can be picky about hiring the right hygienist with the right salary again. Right now, just increase the treatment fee to make up for the higher overhead. A lot of your patients also get some kind of stimulus money. They can afford to pay more for their dental treatments.
 
Jul 10, 2007
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  1. Dentist
I know all that, I am saying this is the reason you dont see as many entering the the dental assisting field, trust me everyone is offering competitve pay here people simply arent applying, my applications have been bone dry for the last 2 months, before that 1 out of every 2 applicants dont even show up. 20 to 25 is what we are paying here and Im in the midwest with a much lower cost of living than SoCal. To be honest you are the only person I have come across thats not seeing this issue as a dentist, every dentist in person I talk to and online is complaining about this issue.
Yeah, we have excess of everything here in CA....too many doctors, dentists, lawyers, restaurant workers, healthcare workers, dental assistants etc. Does your state require the assistants to have RDA license in order to perform certain procedures? If not, why not just hire any HS kid and train him/her? Sometimes it's better to train someone with no experience to work the way you want than to hire one with dental assisting experience but has bad habits.
 
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Cold Front

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  1. Dentist
Can we honestly ask ourselves why would anyone want to be a DA or RDA right now? I can’t think of any reason to recommend the job to anyone unless they’re a mom looking for a few days a week to supplement their family income with hours conducive to school. But …. Most offices have moved away from such friendly hours.

I agree. I lost 3 DA’s during the pandemic last year, for good. The ones I have now; 1 has a side eyelash business that she does from her home (and she makes more money on that gig than I pay her - she easily gets clients form Instagram and by word of mouth), another is in her teens and looking to apply to a hygiene school or dental school (she will be fine within a year at the most), the rest are senior assistants who demanded high pay and they make $40-45k a year before payroll taxes and benefits - they probably cost my offices about $50k a year each. I’m in the midwest. Aspen dental alone (1 of many DSO’s in my state) opened 50 dental offices just the last decade. Average DSO has 4-5 assistants, and there is a DSO opening a new office every week within 30 mins to 1 hour drive from my offices, and they are hiring assistants at $15-20/hr with no experience required. The DA demand is simply going to get worse, and once they get paid higher wages, the dentists can’t dial that pay back... until that DA is replaced by less experienced one - if they can find one.
 
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