Dental hygiene programs ‘underfunded and understaffed,’ report finds
NEW YORK — The United States is underfunding and under-staffing its dental hygiene programs, a report found Tuesday.
The U.S. Dental Health Association said that the average dental hygienist in the country spends $7,890 per year and that many dentists are working full-time for the cost of living.
“This underfunding is a problem, it’s unacceptable,” said Dr. Anthony A. Fauci, president and CEO of the American Dental Association.
According to the report, the average yearly wage of a dental hygerist is $7.85 an hour.
The report said the U.C.L.A. Health Center, which operates the L.A.-based dental hygiene program in Los Angeles, has over 30 dental hygeines.
The average hygeneist works 12 hours per week, making the center one of the largest dental hygenetics programs in the U, the report said.
But the report also noted that the majority of hygens have not received a salary increase in more than four years.
Fausci said that because of the high cost of dental care, dentists have to use part-time or low-paid work in order to pay for their salaries.
He said the problem has not gone away.
“I think the problem is going to be worse,” he said.