In response to the access crisis, state policymakers, consumer advocates and oral health coalitions are pioneering innovations to extend the reach of the oral health care delivery system and improve oral health access. Among these innovations are medical-dental integration and the addition of dental therapists to the dental team.

ADHA policy supports oral health care workforce models that culminate in (ADHA Policy, 4S-09):
•   Graduation from an accredited institution
•   Professional licensure
•    Direct Access to patient care

Dental hygienists are formally educated and licensed by each state and are poised to help prevent oral health diseases. ADHA is committed to working on the development and implementation of new workforce models, nationally referred to as dental therapists.

  • The dental hygiene workforce is ready and available; there are currently 200,000+ licensed dental hygienists in the United States.
  • The educational infrastructure is developed; there are over 300 entry-level dental hygiene programs
  • The public will benefit from providers with a broad range of skill sets which include preventive and specific restorative services.

Learn more about Dental Therapy


2022 Dental Workforce Shortages Report

To better understand dental assistant and dental hygienist employment patterns and identify factors associated with both the attrition and retention of dental team members, a research partnership was formed between the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI), the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and IgniteDA.

Using data collected from thousands of dental assistants, dental hygienists, and dentists in 2022, a report titled “Dental Workforce Shortages: Data to Navigate Today’s Labor Market” was issued. The report offers a comprehensive outlook on the levers available to sustain and improve workplace satisfaction among dental practice personnel. These levers can enhance the recruitment and development of a high-quality workforce within the dental sector.

Access the Dental Workforce Shortages Report