According to a June 2021 American Dental Association study, more than 80% of dentists looking to hire hygienists and assistants found the process very challenging or extremely challenging.¹

The healthcare industry as a whole struggled to fill staffing needs as nationwide employment shortages plagued these essential organizations. Recent pandemic hits created dental staffing issues such as low wages, additional responsibilities, and longer working hours, leading many hygienists to search for new career opportunities.

Without proper staffing, many dental offices have faced the need to reduce their capacities, limit availability, and turn away patients who desperately need dental services.

However, a solution is in sight. Read on to learn more about the effects of inadequate staffing on dental offices and how Weave can help.

Effects of Inadequate Staffing in Dental Offices

The staffing shortage across the healthcare industry created many dire effects for both patients and workers in these careers. Here are a few of the most prominent effects resulting from staffing shortages in dental offices.

Worsened Working Conditions

Working in an understaffed dental office can be stressful for all of the staff involved. Administrative staff, dental assistants, hygienists, and dentists are all finding the need to increase their workloads so the practice can stay afloat with fewer employees.

However, operating with a larger workload can be overwhelming and burdensome, leading many employees to feel stressed or anxious throughout their shifts. As a result, employees may enjoy their jobs less or even consider transitioning to another career due to these staffing shortages.

Longer Working Hours

Many dental offices have begun making employees work longer hours to fill in the gaps that staffing shortages within their offices have caused. However, being forced to work long hours can hinder their work/life balances and prevent them from having the free time they need to unwind from their busy work schedules.

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Decreased Work Performance

When dental offices do not have the proper personnel to deliver the best services to their patients, their quality of care will inevitably worsen. Many dental offices are finding that they do not have the time or staffing to deliver the best cleanings and most thorough exams to their patients. Offices simply cannot operate to their fullest potential without adequate staffing.

Forced Closures and Hour Changes

To combat staff shortages, some dental offices have decided to limit their hours or even close their offices temporarily. Many offices only have enough staff to stay open half of the day, drastically limiting the number of appointments they have available to patients.

Limiting availability has led these offices to experience revenue deficits over periods of staffing shortages. Some offices have not been able to come back from these times of lower profits, causing them to shut down permanently.

Neglected Patients

Routine dental checkups, cleanings, and procedures are an essential part of keeping teeth and gums healthy. However, the dental staffing shortage has prevented some patients from receiving the dental care they need to maintain proper oral health.

Many dental offices have begun limiting their appointment availability due to staffing shortages. As a result, patients must wait longer to receive routine cleaning and examination appointments. Unfortunately, some eventually arrive at their appointments to find that they have cavities or other dental issues that have worsened in the time it took to get in to see the dentist.

Discouraged Dental Workers

One of the most burdensome effects of the staffing challenges that many dental offices face is the impact on existing employees. Offices experiencing staffing shortages must rely on their existing employees to fill in gaps wherever possible.

The poor working conditions and long hours that these workers must suffer through often leave them disheartened and discouraged. Many of these workers have begun seeking employment elsewhere, which only contributes further to the staffing shortage.

If the dental industry develops a reputation of being in a constant state of inadequate staffing, fewer students will want to pursue the dental profession, creating a never-ending cycle of employment shortages.

How Weave Can Help

The dental staffing shortage is an issue that will take extensive consideration and time to rectify. However, dental offices can implement small changes that will remove some of the stress from their existing employees and help them remain afloat during periods of severe shortages.

Weave is a business automation platform that streamlines many of the day-to-day processes involved in running a dental office. Many healthcare organizations have begun incorporating automation systems like Weave into their daily practices to reduce employee workloads and demonstrate care and commitment toward their patients.

Here are a few ways Weave can assist your dental practice, especially during the dental staffing shortage.

Streamline Patient Communication

Many dental offices spend far too much time reaching out to patients to confirm upcoming appointments. While confirming appointments is necessary for keeping a full schedule, it can be time-consuming, especially when offices do not have enough employees.

Thankfully, Weave can almost completely eliminate the time and work behind confirming patient appointments. Weave Messages can allow your office to send automated text messages to patients at a specified time before their appointments, such as three days or one week.

Patients can respond to these messages in their own words to either confirm their appointment or request a new appointment time. Weave’s artificial intelligence technology can detect the content in these messages without you needing to read them yourself.

Incorporating a system like Weave Messages into your office’s daily operations can save your administrative staff time, allowing them to focus on more pressing tasks.

Simplify Scheduling

Another task that dental offices spend too much time on is scheduling patient appointments. If your dental office is like most others, you probably schedule most patient appointments over the phone. Patients call your office, and you or your staff spend time perusing the available appointment times and helping the patient choose one that suits their schedule.

Employing a patient scheduling program like Weave Scheduling takes most of the work out of scheduling appointments. Patients can use this program through your dental office’s website to schedule their own appointments, saving your office the time and hassle of finding appointment times for them.

Eliminating unnecessary tasks such as manual patient scheduling can reduce the workload for understaffed teams, taking away some of the burden of not having enough employees.

Keep Patients Updated About Office Changes

Until recently, your dental office may have never had cause to email all of your patients at once. However, many dental offices are undergoing frequent changes that require them to keep patients in the loop through email messaging.

One way to simplify the process of emailing all of your patients at once is to use an email marketing platform such as Weave. Weave can allow you to send mass emails to all of your patients or filter recipient lists based on specific variables, such as patient type or appointment time.

Weave also makes it easy to craft professional, high-quality marketing emails to send to these populations. You can use the Weave email templates to simplify your email-writing process. You can also include images from the Weave database to make your messages more eye-catching and appealing.

Connect and Unify Multi-Office Practices

If your dental practice spans several office locations, you should be utilizing employees across locations to fill out areas of staffing shortages in other offices. One way to assist this office unifying process is to use a program like Weave Unify.

Weave Unify makes it easy to allow employees from one office location to assist employees in another location with scheduling and administrative tasks. Workers can use Weave Unify to merge data across record systems, giving employees across offices access to patient information they need throughout the scheduling process.

Weave Unify can also provide a multi-office phone system that allows employees in different office locations to share phone-answering responsibilities and make interoffice calls. This phone system makes it easier and more efficient for employees to join forces during periods of inadequate staffing.

Improve Communication Between Employees and Management

Focusing on the satisfaction of existing employees is an important step in ensuring that staffing shortages do not worsen over time. If employees become too unhappy with their poor working conditions, they may leave your dental office for another career altogether, creating an even more significant shortage.

One way to show employees that you care about their happiness on the job is to facilitate clear, frequent communication between employees and management. Giving employees a space to voice their concerns in which they know management will listen to them can go a long way in promoting employee satisfaction.

Weave simplifies and streamlines communication across teams of employees and management professionals. Using the Weave Team platform, you and your entire dental staff can quickly communicate with each other through your mobile devices. This platform also gives management a unified location to post announcements and send staff-wide messages.

Find Out More about Weave Today

Incorporating Weave into your office’s daily tasks can help make the dental staffing shortage more manageable. For more information about the Weave platform, request a demo through our site today.

  1. Understaffed and ready to hire, dentists face applicant shortages as they emerge from COVID-19 pandemic