Vast majority of US dentists increase pay for dental teams

CHICAGO, US: Around 80% of owner-dentists in the US have provided pay increases to the dental assistants and hygienists on their staff within the last 12 months, according to fresh data from the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute (HPI). Despite weakening confidence in the economic recovery of dental clinics, the US dental sector and the national economy at large, most pay increases have been in the range of 4–6%.

The HPI data showed that 79.8% of owner-dentists in private general practice had given dental hygienists a wage increase within the past year. At 83.8%, the number was even higher for dental assistants. For dental hygienists, 31.4% were given a raise of 1–3%, 36.6% were given a raise of 4–6%, 14.8% were given a raise of 7–9% and 18.1% were given a raise of 10% or more. Pay increases were greater for dental assistants, and the increase amounted to a 1–3% raise for 23.2% of dental assistants, a 4–6% raise for 41.9%, a 7–9% raise for 14.7% and a raise of 10% or more for 20.2%.

Pay increases were greater within the specialties of periodontics and paediatric dentistry. Owner-dentists at periodontics clinics gave 87.8% of dental hygienists and 88.9% of dental assistants a pay rise within the last 12 months. In both cases, 44.4% were given a pay rise of 4–6%, and 23.8% of dental assistants received a boost of 10% or more to their monthly wage.

In periodontic clinics, at least half of dental assistants (50.0%) and dental hygienists (56.7%) were given pay increases in the range of 4–6%.

Pay increases were lower in number and magnitude in public health dental settings. Around two-thirds (66.7%) of dental hygienists at public clinics were given a raise within the last 12 months, and it amounted to a 1–3% pay increase for 51.8% of them. For dental assistants, 77.6% received a pay increase, and it amounted to 1–3% for just over a one-third of them (37.9%) and to 4–6% for an additional third (34.5%).

And whereas staff pay increases point towards good financial health, HPI data from June showed what it called a precipitous drop in dentists’ economic confidence.

Just 16% of dentists expressed confidence in the national economy in June, down from 34% in March

The number of dentists who were “very” or “somewhat” confident in the recovery of their dental clinic stood at 57% in June—down from just over 80% in June last year. The figure has fallen each month since March. Dentists’ confidence in the recovery of the dental care sector has traced a similar downward trajectory, falling from around 81% in June last year to 67% a year later. Since March, it has fallen to 50%.

The confidence of US dentists in the US economy is currently staggeringly low. Just 16% of dentists expressed confidence in the national economy in June, down from 34% in March.

The data was taken from an HPI report and additional insights based on a survey it conducted between 14 and 19 June 2022. It received responses from 1,203 dentists in private practice and 64 dentists working in public health settings.

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