WAUKESHA, Wis. — The worker shortage is impacting the dental field.

It is especially true when it comes to both dental hygienists and dental assistants.

A recent survey published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene found that 8% of dental hygienists left the field during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many others are retiring without new qualified people to replace them.

Lisa Bahr coordinates the Dental Hygiene Program for Waukesha County Technical College.

Bahr said the high demand for dental care professionals has wide-ranging impacts.

“This is a nationwide increase not just in our area but nationwide,” Bahr said. “They are looking for hygienists as well as all dental assisting and hygiene.”

For those currently going through the training program at WCTC, the shortage is working to their advantage.

Abigail Lewis is set to graduate from the program in May. Lewis said that before she graduates, she has already had over a dozen dental offices reach out with interview offers.

Lewis said it has allowed her to choose the best offer for her.

“I feel like I have had an advantage being able to compare offices,” Lewis said. “What benefits I get offered at each office? I was able to get the best fit for me.”

Lewis said many of her classmates have found themselves with the opportunity to choose from a variety of job offers.