Empowering the Next Generation of Dentists

Bridging the dental workforce gap.  

By Andrew Smith, Chief Executive Officer, ADSO

Bad breath and cavities are not the only consequences of poor oral health and hygiene. A growing body of research draws connection between dental care and overall health, with many linking gum and periodontal disease to increased risk of cardiovascular problems and other serious health issues. These studies underscore the need for what has always been at the core of our work at the Association of Dental Support Organization (ADSO): expanding access to quality dental care and ensuring a best-in-class patient experience. However, the ongoing dental workforce shortage in the United States poses a significant challenge for dental practices of all sizes and types.

The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that there are 7,395 designated dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, or communities that lack enough dental practitioners to deliver needed care, affecting the more than 75 million people who live in these areas. As a result, practitioners can meet only 32.06% of Americans’ dental needs. With an additional 12,757 new dentists required to meet existing needs, this shortage directly affects current dental professionals who face increased workloads, as well as patients who are forced to endure weeks – sometimes even up to a month – of waiting time for an appointment.

The ADSO is committed to doing our part to address this shortage, including partnering with industry experts and policymakers to successfully advocate for license portability laws across the country and launching a DSO taskforce designed to explore viable solutions to the staffing challenges in our industry. More recently, we launched the DSO Difference, a new digital campaign for soon-to-be and recent dental school graduates offering job search resources and information on opportunities to partner with Dental Support Organizations (DSOs).

Recruiting and retaining the next generation of dentists is critical to addressing the workforce shortage. For many, the transition from dental school to professional practice can be daunting, especially in a dynamic and evolving labor market. This makes educating future dentists about their career options even more important. The goal of the DSO Difference is to set dental school students and recent graduates up for success by providing them with the tools they need to jumpstart their careers and informing them about the benefits of DSOs for practicing dentists.

Through the DSO Difference website, visitors have access to video testimonials from young dentists who have thrived in the industry by partnering with DSOs, tips on questions to ask during a job hunt, and a wealth of information on DSOs and the professional services they provide. The website also features a unique DSO matchmaker tool that helps emerging dentists find their ideal career by filtering DSOs by location, specialty and more.

Providing the best patient experience is at the forefront of the dental industry’s work, but this is only possible when we have enough qualified dentists to deliver high-quality care. We at the ADSO are very proud of the work we and our partners are doing to help improve patient access and experience.

The DSO Difference campaign is accessible to anyone interested in this resource. You can visit the campaign’s website at www.DSODifference.org.