No worries about finding a seat in this faculty lounge.

A notable 900 vacancies are predicted to arise in dental schools before 2020.

An report by Diana J. Lamoreux, RDH, BS, MEd, uncovered that in addition, half of full-time dental hygiene faculty will retire.

Speaking of retirement, as of 2014 (that’s this year for anyone who didn’t have enough caffeine this morning), the number of retiring dentists will exceed the number of graduating dentists.

Is this cause for alarm?

The U.S. Surgeon General thinks so.

According to Lamoreaux:

“In 2000, for the first time in history, the U.S. Surgeon General, David Satcher, addressed oral health as a priority in this country. His commentary, “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General,” identified oral health as essential to general health and noted that there is a “worrisome shortfall in the numbers of men and women choosing careers in oral health education and research.”

Why is the shortfall so “worrisome”?

  • As of 2009, there were 4,230 dental health professional shortage areas (HPSAs). More than 49 million people live in dental HPSAs today.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the demand for dental hygienists would increase 36% by 2010 and that the distribution of the dental workforce would be inequitable.

The moral of the story:  Someone needs to attract, mentor and retain faculty in the future. Who will it be? Lamoreux’s report claims not much has been accomplished thus far.

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