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The Top 2021 Dental Staffing Trends You Need to Know About

staffingDentistry has always been a fast-changing industry. This became remarkably apparent in 2020, following the significant changes brought about by COVID-19. As dental practice owners across the country adapted to extraordinary circumstances, it grew clear that staffing dental offices with employees in the traditional manner was no longer a wise choice.

As more vaccines are rolled out and the pandemic slows down as predicted, dental practices that adopted emerging dental staffing trends will continue to enjoy the benefits well into the future. Not only that, but the dental hygienists and assistants who made the most of their time and readjusted to the new normal will also revel in the many advantages as a result of their proactive behavior.

To help you stay ahead of the competition and continue growing throughout the year, here are the top 2021 dental staffing trends you need to know about.

Working with temp dental staff

Staffing your practice with temp dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants allows you to adapt to the current circumstances, whatever they are.

When business is booming, you can hire additional temp staff to help you cover extra patient appointments and grow. Similarly, when business is slow, you can hold off on hiring more staff and save money while things are quiet. This simply isn’t an option with regular employees.

How RDHs and RDAs can benefit: Consider becoming an independent contractor and working for yourself. This way you can take advantage of the temporary positions offered by practice owners while following a schedule that best suits you.


2020 was filled with worry, uncertainty, and burdens. To help reduce staffing expenses, it’s likely you took on the roles of your dental hygienists and assistants if you could no longer afford to pay them. In 2021, it’s time to get back to focusing on your job of treating patients.

To free up hours so you can dedicate more time to your passion, consider outsourcing the aspects of practice management that aren’t worth keeping in-house. From billing and HR to marketing and appointment scheduling, there are many elements dental practices can outsource to save money and increase productivity.

How RDHs and RDAs can benefit: Expand your skills beyond your RDH or RDA job description so you can take over the additional responsibilities. Most dental practice owners would prefer tasks to be done by someone who understands the practice and you’ll have the opportunity to earn additional income.

Whether you dive into dental practice management, social media marketing, or office accounting, developing an additional skill that’s related to your passion will be incredibly useful for years to come.

Hiring specialists on an ad-hoc basis

Every time you refer a patient to another practice for complex specialist treatment, you risk losing that patient for good. To increase patient retention rates in 2021, hire specialist dentists for one-off treatments.

Having access to all kinds of specialist dentists not only boosts patient retention rates, but it also helps you acquire new patients, too, as you’re able to expand the number of treatments you offer. 

How RDHs and RDAs can benefit: If you’re planning on becoming a dentist, continue your education and think about specializing in a specific aspect of dentistry you find most interesting. General dentists earn around $176,000 per year, while orthodontists earn approximately $208,000 each year, so the extra hard work will pay off.

If you don’t want to become a dentist, make yourself available for one-off placements so you can maximize your earning potential as an RDH or RDA.

Hiring last minute

Dental practices throughout the US were only able to offer emergency treatments for months when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. Because of this, it’s fair to assume you want to benefit from every penny you can in 2021. 

To magnify your practice’s potential income, consider accepting last-minute appointments and using temp staffing to make sure you’ve got enough workers to cover them. Using online platforms to hire temporary workers for single shifts means you’ll never have to turn down patient appointments, nor will you have to over-pay staff wages.

How RDHs and RDAs can benefit: As an independent contracting RDH or RDA, you can significantly boost your revenue by accepting last-minute offers. If you’re lucky enough to currently be working full-time, this means putting in an extra shift on your day off or doubling up shifts on days where you’d usually only work one.

If you don’t have a full schedule, you might have to consider canceling plans so you can accept last-minute offers and increase your revenue. Some dental practices will be happy to pay an additional bonus if you’re able to accept within a moment’s notice, helping you raise your earnings even further.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important. If you need the money, it’s wise to put in a few extra shifts when you can. Just keep in mind this isn’t a permanent solution and if you continue pushing yourself too much for too long, you’ll end up burning out. 

Prioritizing new skills

Until COVID-19 is truly under control, when hiring new dental staff, you should prioritize those with experience working during the pandemic and handling difficult patients, as well as those with knowledge of infection control.

Hiring RDHs and RDAs who have the skills to enter a dental practice and get straight to work without any training will save you significant time, budget, and resources. They’ll also be able to provide a better patient experience to improve your practice’s reputation.

How RDHs and RDAs can benefit: Learn as much as you can about the subjects most important in today’s dental practices, such as protecting yourself and others from infection, handling difficult patients, and the benefits of teledentistry.

There are many sources of free and affordable information online where you can learn about the latest best practices in dentistry through webinars, lectures, and online courses. Every time you develop a new skill or accreditation, add it to your resumé for potential employers to see.

Take action today

It’s not enough to just read about the latest developments in dentistry. You need to take action to get the benefits. This is equally true for practice owners as it is RDHs and RDAs.

So whether you decide to delve into hiring temp dental workers or expand your knowledge to make yourself more valuable in the dental practice, take the first step today to ensure your future in dentistry will be a bright one.

Cloud Dentistry connects dental professionals with the quality positions they want while providing practice owners with qualified temporary staff. Co-founded by Trey Tepichin and Reza Sanjar in 2014, the powerful cloud-based platform puts the control in your hands and creates a solution that benefits everyone.

As a practice owner, you can browse the profiles of dental professionals and chat directly with them in real-time. If you find someone who meets your requirements, they can be working in your practice within hours.

As a dental professional, you can gain freedom away from traditional temp agencies and take control of your career. You can set your hourly rate, determine your schedule, and choose the practices you work for — all with zero commission so you take home everything you earn.

Whether you’re a practice owner or a dental professional, sign up with Cloud Dentistry today and get ready to make 2021 the best year yet.

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