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Fewer dentists indicated feeling “very” confident about their practice’s economic recovery than at any point in 2023 to date.

Economic, dental practice recovery confidence decline among dentists

Nov. 13, 2023
In HPI's most recent poll, fewer dentists indicated feeling “very” confident about their practice’s economic recovery than at any point in 2023 to date. Learn more.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

More dentists report their insurance reimbursements have stayed the same or decreased than a year ago, while fewer indicated feeling “very” confident about their practice’s economic recovery than at any point in 2023 to date.

The August 2023 Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry, a tracking poll that the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI) started in January 2022, examined reimbursement rates among dentists, which indicated that while overall the percentage of dentists polled in August 2023 who said their reimbursements increased was greater than it was a year ago, a larger percentage of dentists also reported theirs had stayed the same or decreased.

The poll also continued its evaluation of such core measures as economic outlook, schedule busyness, issues with scheduling, and dental team recruitment.

Economic outlook

Responses to the question “Looking ahead to the next six months, how confident are you in the following?” indicated a slight decline in confidence in dentists’ own practices and in the dental care sector in August 2023. Current confidence levels, 60% in a dentist’s particular practice and 53% in the dental care sector, remain significantly below the high point in 2021 and are at their lowest in 2023.

Schedule busyness

Respondents reported having schedules 87% full in August 2023, a steady percentage throughout the year. Other recent insights on practice and GP busyness indicate that “GP dentists are busier than ever,” with the percent indicating ‘too busy to treat all people requesting appointments’ or ‘provided care to all who requested appointments but was overworked’ is at all-time high.

Issues with scheduling

Responding to the question of which factors prevented the appointment schedule from reaching 100% the previous week, short-notice cancellations and no-shows were the top reasons indicated.

Dental team recruitment

Ongoing challenges with recruiting for dental hygienist and dental assistant roles continue, with more than a third of the dentists polled reporting they’re actively recruiting for those roles. Dentists’ perceived difficulties in recruiting—whether doing so is “extremely challenging” or “very challenging”—has dropped somewhat, but overall, the number of dentists actively recruiting dental hygienists and dental assistants increased slightly in August 2023.