Post-Pandemic challenges facing the dentist industry

In the wake of the Pandemic state of emergency, a lot about the way we live is still getting back to normal. Costs for some goods and services are still high while the workforce is still recovering. The dental industry is no different. Read on to learn how Delta Dental of Washington is taking action to support our providers and building for the future of our network.

The Dental Industry

Job openings at dental offices are still at an all-time high

During the Pandemic, dental office staff sizes shrank due to both layoffs and burnout. Some staff members switched careers entirely as inflation and workforce shortages in other industries forced up salaries. Now, dental offices are working to return to a full staff so they can provide quality and efficient oral healthcare to all of their patients.

But recovery is slow. More than one third of dentists are still recruiting open hygienist and assistant positions. Salaries for dental professionals are higher than ever while dentist offices work toward shortening patient wait times.

Job openings at dental offices are still at an all-time high infographic

Source: American Dental Association, 2023

How we’re closing the dental professional employment gap in Washington State.

Delta Dental of Washington earmarks $1 million annually to build training programs in schools and other community gathering places for teens and young adults to learn about and practice dentistry to encourage them to begin a career in dentistry.

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We partner with local training programs in Shoreline and Pacific Northwest University to help expand and maintain integral clinical training programs to ensure a continued crop of prepared and enthusiastic new dental professionals for years to come.

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The cost of doing business is up for dental providers

Inflation is beginning to ease and Delta Dental of Washington is optimistic. But the high price of doing business remains a hurdle to many Washington providers. We’ve already seen how wages are increasing due to an employment gap that’s led to high competition for a skilled workforce, but the costs of supplies, lab fees, and more are also on the rise.

The cost of doing business is up for dental providers infographic

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017-2022

How we’re helping dentists stay in business and have the greatest impact in their communities

Since 2020, pediatric and general member dentists have begun to transition to our new Provider Reimbursement Model which takes into account the variable cost of doing business and puts an emphasis on preventive care.

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Our Network

Delta Dental of Washington has the largest dental network in the state

In 2022, our network experienced slight changes in size based on provider participation decisions. We believe that quality, accessible oral health begins with the provider and that, by building relationships with dentists and practices across our network, Delta Dental of Washington can help deliver unbeatable patient care. By working with the biggest provider network in the state, we can ensure some of the most accessible care around with the highest patient satisfaction rates. And by innovating ways to encourage preventive care we keep costs as low as possible for both the patient and the dentist, building a roadmap the dental industry can use to provide increasingly better care.

Our Network infographic

We are dedicated to oral health equity and are focused on ensuring that underrepresented people in communities with large health disparities receive the treatment they need – and deserve.

Our provider relations team keeps our dentists informed about Delta Dental news and updates, and helps ensure dentists meet stringent credentialing requirements.

Patients love our network providers. They rate their experience with Delta Dental dentists an average of 9.5 out of 10.

By contracting with dentists directly and avoiding leased networks we can ensure our providers are held to the highest standards and can streamline the claims process.