ADA poll: Dental practice recovery confidence drops

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Dentists' confidence in an economic recovery has been steadily declining. In May, only 1 in 5 dentists had high hopes for economic recovery in the coming months, according to the Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry poll from the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI).

The percentage of dentists who feel somewhat confident in an economic recovery within the next six months dropped 7% from April to May. In May, 22% of dentists indicated they were "very" or "somewhat" confident in an economic recovery, down from 29% in April.

The drop reflects dentists' confidence in the recovery of their practices. Sixty-five percent of dentists indicated they were "very" or "somewhat" confident in a recovery of their own practice, down from 69% in April.

Other poll results collected from 1,400 respondents indicated that dental practice schedules have remained steady as practice schedules have been 86% full. There are still significant dental team recruitment needs. Approximately 4 in 10 dentists were recruiting dental staff in May, with dental hygienists being the hardest positions to fill.

About 22% of dental hygiene positions were unfilled in May, and dentists in urban areas feel this shortage the most. Fifty-one percent of total dental hygienist positions available are in the top 20 cities. In other urban areas, 19% are open. In suburban areas, 17% are open. In rural areas, 19% are open.

The HPI's Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry monthly poll began in January to analyze the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on dentistry. Researchers were seeking to understand dentists' opinions on issues related to their practices.

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