Week in Review: Facing the harrowing workforce shortage | Reimbursements not keeping up with inflation | World Smile Day

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

Dentistry is facing a harrowing workforce shortage that began before the COVID-19 pandemic -- and it may get worse before it gets better. Our top story of the week breaks down the highlights from a recent ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI) webinar on the subject.

Data presented during the webinar showed that 40% of dental practices are hiring dental hygienists and assistants in any given month. Even more concerning, roughly one-third of hygienists and assistants expect to retire in the next five years.

That wasn't the only grim dental practice news from the HPI this week. On Wednesday, the institute released data showing dentists are reporting increases in most expenses, including supplies, staff wages, and lab fees. At the same time, insurance reimbursement rates are largely staying the same -- or even decreasing. During a webinar reviewing the data, the vice president of the HPI said it's likely going to be financially challenging to keep up with inflation.

Where women in dentistry fare worse

Two new studies we covered this week looked at where women in dentistry fare worse than men.

The first study, published in the Journal of Dental Education, found that full-time female faculty members at dental schools are still outnumbered by men. Female faculty are also paid at lower rates than male faculty members, and female deans make less in total compensation.

Then, in a study of oral and maxillofacial surgeons, researchers found female surgeons were almost three times more likely to receive a one-star rating on Yelp than male surgeons. Dentists who completed their residency during the 1970s were also much more likely to get a poor review on the crowd-sourced review website than newer trainees.

World Smile Day

Sure, the news this week may make you want to frown, but people in Cincinnati have a reason to smile. The city was ranked as the most smiley city in the U.S. by researchers who analyzed more than 15,000 Instagram photos in honor of World Smile Day on October 7. Residents of Birmingham, AL, and Austin, TX, were also more likely to show off their pearly whites on the popular social media platform.

Stay tuned for SmileCon

Last but not least, I'll be heading to the Lone Star State next week to attend the ADA's SmileCon meeting in Houston. I'm looking forward to connecting with our columnists, highlighting the exhibit hall, and, hopefully, eating some delicious breakfast tacos.

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