The Importance of Staff Retention in Dental Offices: Why It Matters

by Holly Moore, Frontier Dental


The number one concern for most dental practices in North America is keeping the office staffed with quality employees. Staffing is quickly becoming a national issue in modern dentistry, with over 90% of dental offices placing the greatest emphasis on staff retention and the happiness of current employees. 

As the demand for quality oral healthcare continues to surge, dental practices continue to struggle with the adverse effects of high employee turnover rates. This growing problem poses significant obstacles to the seamless functioning of dental offices, and jeopardizes patient care and the overall reputation of dental clinics.

This article will explore why employee retention should be the number one concern of dentists everywhere and shed light on the detrimental consequences high turnover brings to both dental staff and patients alike.

The negative effects of dental staff turnover

Employee turnover is a persistent challenge that affects every role in the dental office, including dental assistants, dental hygienists, office managers, etc. To use dental assistants as an example, according to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), the ratio of newly certified dental assistants to new dentists entering the workforce fell from 3-to-1 to almost 1-to-1. A portion of this decline is attributable to individuals leaving the dental industry due to various factors, such as stress, mental health, hour flexibility, and work-from-home opportunities. However, the effects of high turnover rates extend far beyond the departure of the individual team member.

Increased Costs of New Staff

The first downside that might pop into your mind is the financial implications of high staff turnover. The truth is that staff turnover can significantly affect the bottom line for dental offices. Recruitment, hiring, and training processes incur expenses, not to mention the costs associated with advertising job openings and conducting interviews. Moreover, a reduced focus on patient care and staff shortage during the transition period can lead to potential revenue loss for the practice.

Disrupted Continuity of Care

Like in healthcare, dental offices cannot offer quality oral healthcare without ensuring continuity of care is the cornerstone of their practice. When staff members frequently come and go, patients might need to interact with different dental assistants, hygienists, or office staff at each visit. This lack of consistency can lead to communication gaps, misunderstandings, and an overall sense of disconnection between patients and the practice. For example, patients may feel less comfortable discussing their oral health concerns, or the clinic could overlook critical details about their dental history, potentially compromising treatment outcomes.

Negative Impact on Employee Morale

A coworker leaving their role affects the business and the other team members. Frequent turnover can create a sense of instability and uncertainty among the remaining staff. The departure of valued colleagues can lead to demotivation and reduced job satisfaction, making it harder to maintain a positive work atmosphere. Low employee morale can lead to high turnover as dissatisfied staff may be more inclined to seek employment elsewhere, perpetuating the cycle.

The Importance of Employee Happiness and Retention in Dental Offices

Behind every successful dental practice stands a dedicated team of professionals who deliver exceptional oral healthcare services, from greeting patients to ordering dental supplies to everything in between. However, the revolving door of staff due to low employee retention rates can threaten stability and long-term success of a dental office. The first course of action to combat any staffing shortage is to emphasize staff retention and employee happiness and satisfaction. The benefits are far-reaching, with the potential to positively impact patient care, practice reputation, and overall success in the competitive dental industry.

Enhanced Dental Patient Experience

Dental staff members are the face of your practice, the first point of contact for patients, and instrumental in creating a positive patient experience. Employees who have been with your clinic for a longer duration tend to establish deeper connections with patients, engendering a sense of trust and familiarity. These long-term relationships contribute to patient loyalty, which is crucial for sustaining a successful dental practice in a competitive market.

Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture

A positive and supportive workplace culture is essential for employee morale and job satisfaction. Dental clinic owners and managers must strive to create an environment where staff members feel valued, appreciated, and motivated to perform at their best. Employee retention is closely linked to job satisfaction, as dental staff who feel recognized and respected are more likely to remain committed to the practice long-term. A positive workplace culture also encourages employees to give their best effort, which ultimately benefits the patients and the overall success of the practice.

Boosting Reputation and Attracting Talent in Dentistry

A dental practice with a reputation for retaining its employees is more likely to attract top talent in the industry. Word spreads quickly in professional circles and can draw prospective employees to a practice due to their values. The ability to attract skilled and experienced individuals is vital for maintaining a competitive edge in the dental market and ensuring the ongoing growth and success of the clinic.


In conclusion, employee retention is crucial to running a successful dental practice. The list may seem long, but the components of staffing success are simple when broken down. By building a cohesive team, fostering a positive workplace culture, and attracting top talent, dental clinic owners, managers, and dentists can ensure long-term success and sustainability of their practice. As a result, they are more likely to reduce turnover costs, enhance the patient experience, and maintain continuity of care, which all affects the bottom line in the end.

Investing in the well-being and satisfaction of dental staff benefits the employees themselves and directly impacts the quality of patient care and the overall reputation of the clinic. Emphasizing employee retention is a win-win situation for all parties involved and a cornerstone of any thriving dental practice.

About the Author

Holly Moore is the marketing coordinator at Frontier Dental, a dental supply company that offers a bespoke online shopping experience to dentists across North America. Holly publishes dental blogs directly to Frontier Dental’s website and social media channels to create insightful discussions in the dentistry field.