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.
Source: American Dental Association, 2023
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.
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.
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.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017-2022
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.
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.
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.