3 ways well-compensated dental assistants benefit the practice

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Pay is always a hot topic in any profession, including among dental assistants. Fair and competitive wages allow employees to have a higher quality of life, take care of loved ones, and feel valued by their employers. Unfortunately, some dental assistants do not feel fairly compensated and choose to pursue new opportunities because of it.

A new report from DANB and the DALE Foundation, the Financial Impact of Dental Assistants on the Dental Practice, helps illustrate the downsides of this turnover — and how raising pay for dental assistants can benefit the entire practice.

Staff retention

When dental assistants are well compensated, they’re more likely to stay with their practices. According to DANB’s most recent Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction survey, insufficient pay was the top reason dental assistants left their jobs or the profession altogether. This can quickly become costly for practices. DANB and the DALE Foundation’s newest research found that the average at-risk revenue of an open dental assistant position is more than $21,000 over the course of the role’s vacancy. If the position stayed open for a full year, a practice could potentially lose out on nearly $110,000 in revenue.

Offering wage increases, therefore, can be an effective strategy for retaining and motivating dental assistants. Consider this: The latest salary survey also showed that dental assistants who reported being “very satisfied” with their jobs earned $2 more per hour than those who were “very dissatisfied.” Additionally, more than three-quarters of dental assistants reported that salary is “very important” to them.

Patient retention

It is usually more expensive for dental practices to find new patients than it is to retain existing ones. Providing dental care that is both high quality and affordable is key to keeping patients coming back. But it’s also imperative to create a comfortable, positive experience for them. Dental assistants are hugely beneficial to this. In fact, 94% of dental leaders agree that dental assistants help improve patient retention.

Friendliness and strong communication are core skills for assistants, which can help build trust with patients and ease any fears or concerns they have. This also makes patients want to return to a dental office — they enjoy seeing the same friendly faces every time they visit. But practices can lose this effect when they have high turnover on the dental assisting team. When efforts are made to keep dental assistants satisfied with their job and compensation, it can help practices keep patients for years to come.

Higher productivity

Ultimately, it’s easier to maintain a full dental staff when everyone feels well compensated, which maximizes productivity. When practices don’t have enough, or any, dental assistants, it leads to a heavier workload on the rest of the staff and prevents the team from working as efficiently as possible. According to research, more than half of reassigned tasks are delegated to another dental assistant. About one-quarter of reassigned tasks are taken on by the dentist, the role with the highest labor cost.

A full staff streamlines the office workflow. Each person can focus on their own job responsibilities, keeping the office moving like a well-oiled machine. This allows practices to see more patients, keep the schedule on track, and minimize wait times while maintaining a high quality of care. In other words, it helps practices earn more revenue.

To see how much revenue you can save by increasing dental assistant wages, try out the Dental Assistant Pay and Financial Impact Calculator. Just type in your practice’s data and a pay increase percentage, and you’ll get a customized calculation.