Demographics for the decade.
Article Type: Statistical data
Subject: Dental personnel (Practice)
Dental personnel (Statistics)
Trade and professional associations (Membership)
Author: McDonough, Doug
Pub Date: 09/01/2009
Publication: Name: The Dental Assistant Publisher: American Dental Assistants Association Audience: Academic; Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 American Dental Assistants Association ISSN: 1088-3886
Issue: Date: Sept-Oct, 2009 Source Volume: 78 Source Issue: 5
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 680 Labor Distribution by Employer
Product: Product Code: 8043800 Dental Auxiliaries; 8620000 Professional Membership Assns NAICS Code: 62121 Offices of Dentists; 81392 Professional Organizations SIC Code: 8621 Professional organizations
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 221850556
Full Text: We're not rushing things too much, but it's hard to believe that there are only a few months left in this, the first decade of the 21st Century. So it was time to update our demographics and find out anew what makes our members tick and as a result what drives the ADAA.

The first happy result to report was that two-and-a-half percent of all respondents included notes with their surveys expressing the opinion, "You're doing fine. Keep up the good work." Leadership and staff love to hear that and it encourages everyone to work toward the continued satisfaction of the membership.

Now down to the nitty gritty.


Seventy-five percent of our members are involved principally with clinical work, but few of them are exclusive to clinical duties. They double in administrative areas such as:

* Staff supervision (37%);

* Scheduling (90%);

* Assisting patients with financial arrangements (30%); and

* Purchasing (61%) ... lots of purchasing. (More about that subject later.)

Fifteen percent report administration as their principal occupation and one-third of those are practice managers.

Five percent are full-time educators and the balance are employed in sales, insurance or lab tech work.

Specialty offices involved only 28 percent of our respondents and of those, here's where they work (Table 2 on page 41):

* 32% Orthodontics

* 24% Oral and maxillofacial surgery

* 23% Pediatrics

* 21% Periodontics

* 11% Endodontics

* 9% Prosthodontics

ADAA members practice in offices employing 1-3 full-time clinical dental assistants. Twenty-four percent work in an office with three assistants, and 19 percent with two assistants. Half of our members' offices include two part-time clinical assistants and one-fourth include three part-time clinicals.

On average, two of the assistants in each office are members of the ADAA and have been for 16 years.

Our respondents tell us that half of their offices include one full-time administrative assistant; 22 percent report two full-time administrative assistants. In addition, 17 percent employ two part-time administrative assistants.

The number of dentists working in reporting offices is as follows:

* 1 dentist: 63%

* 2 dentists: 28%

* 3 dentists:7%

* 4 dentists:5%

* 5 dentists:2%

* 6 or more: 5%

50 percent of the offices also employ one part-time dentist and 25 percent employ two part-timers. Two-thirds of our members assist only one dentist and 20 percent assist two. The balance of those responding assist three or more dentists.

Surprisingly, 20 percent of our respondents are in offices that do not employ full-time hygienists; 40 percent employ one full-time hygienist, 20 percent employ two hygienists and 11 percent employ three hygienists. Over half of the offices employ at least one part-time hygienist.

So to sum up what we do at work: 75 percent of ADAA members work primarily in clinical activities, 15 percent in administrative activities and 5 percent as educators. They've been in the dental assisting profession for 22 years, with their current employer 13 years and work an average of 34 hours per week.

Seventy-five percent say that they have some administrative activity in their day with the primary duties in that area being telephone, scheduling, reception and filing.

Seventy-five percent transmit insurance claims electronically. And that same number--75 percent--are in offices that offer financial arrangement for patients needing extensive treatment, almost always through an outside source.


When it comes to shopping, our members always sail "Yes, let's go shopping," and 61 percent of them shop and buy the products for the practice; of the 39 percent who don't do the buying, 50 percent (!) tell us that it's another dental assistant in the office who does it (probably the other ADAA member). The other 50 percent say it's the dentist, and half of them recommend supplies to the dentist.

Two--thirds of our member--buyers (that impressive 61 percent) report that they also select the supplier. Apparently ADAA members like to shop and know what they want;


We are pleased to note that 86 percent of our member respondents are graduates of accredited dental assisting programs. All but 3 percent of these respondents attended schools accredited by the American Dental Association:

* 36% have attended college.

* 36% more have graduated from two-year community college programs.

* 5% earned a four-year degree.

* 3% have pursued post-graduate studies.

* 4% hold advanced degrees.

* 56% have attended radiology courses.

* 52% have attended expanded function courses.

* 19% attended specialty practice courses.

On the home front, 99 percent of our respondents are female and 80 percent are married; 37 percent have minor children at home and 92 percent are owners of the home they live in. Not too many of them wait for the bus because 99 percent own cars.

The "mean age" (as many older as younger) is 45 and the average number of years as an ADAA member is 16.


Ninety percent of our respondents have personal e-mail accounts and personal access to the Internet. Half use the Internet frequently, one-fourth use it occasionally and one-fourth seldom use it.

Only 40 percent use e-mail for communications and 31 percent use it occasionally, 20 percent seldom and nine percent never.

As previously noted, 75 percent transmit insurance claims electronically.

Eleven percent use ADAA's website for continuing education and seven percent update their membership files on line.


We were delighted to learn that we've been doing a good job of keeping our members informed of association services included in their dues such as publications, insurance, CE discounts, etc., since 90 per cent or more report that they are getting the message about what we offer. Two-thirds or more took note of the optional services such as the ADAA credit card, rental car discounts and other services.

As mentioned earlier, our loyal members have been with us an average of 16 years, which in itself is a very positive assessment.

On the grassroots level, 96 percent of respondents say that their state or local ADAA component offers continuing education and 67 percent take advantage of it.

Ninety-four percent report that their state or local component holds meetings and 39 percent attend state meeting, while 45 percent attend local meetings.

In addition, 58 percent utilize ADAA's home study CE courses and 94 percent agree that they are competitively priced!


When asked if "the boss" is enthusiastic about the assistant's ADAA membership, 86 percent agreed that he or she was enthusiastic or at least "somewhat" and that translated into dollars and cents with 53 percent of employers paying all or some of the ADAA dues.


The members of ADAA are experienced, educated, versatile and loyal. We have seen this in every demographic survey conducted over the last 20 years, and the results this year are not very different. They are heavily clinical, remarkably administrative and above all, they are buyers of the material and services that keep the practice going on a day-to-day basis. They support their association through participation, ongoing membership and concern and they support their personal development through continuing education and readership of their professional Journal (The Dental Assistant).

We thank them for participating in this survey anonymously and promptly and for taking the time out of their busy schedules of working, learning, running families and taking part in their state and local ADAA components to help us show our fellow professionals and the world of dentistry who we are and what we do.

compiled by Doug McDonough, Editor
Table 1

Primary Responsibilities of
ADAA Dental Assistants

Clinical                      75%
Administrative                15%
Educators                      5%
Misc: Sales, Insurance,
 Laboratory technical          5%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Table 2

Of Those in Specialty Practices,
These Are the Types

Othodontics                      32%
Pediatrics                       24%
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery     23%
Periodontics                     21%
Endodontics                      11%
Prosthodontics                    9%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Table 3


What dental assistants are buying:

* 80% All practice dental supplies (including cements,
materials, chairside instruments, x-ray
supplies, etc., and clinical equipment under $500.

* 76% OSHA Compliance/Infection Control products including
disposables and PPE.

* 73% Specialty supplies (including orthos, surgical, endo, etc.).

* 73% Lab products including gypsum, trays, etc.

* 72% Brushes

* 61% Interproximal

* 53% Toothpaste

* 46% Cleaning devices

* 44% Office supplies and equipment under $500.

* 41% Clinical or office equipment over $500 including x-ray
equipment, computer hardware and software.

Table 4

Number of Dental Assistants
Per Reporting Practice Average

Full-Time Clinic            3
Part-Time Clinical          2
Full-Time Administrative    2
Part-Time Administrative    1

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Table 5

Clinical Assistants Report
the Following Administrative Duties

Scheduling                                90%
Purchasing                                61%
Staff Supervision                         37%
Assisting with financial arrangements     30%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Table 6

Use of E-mail for Communication

40%  use e-mail for communication frequently
31%  use e-mail for communication occasionally
20%  use e-mail for communication seldom
 9%  use e-mail for communication not at all

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Table 7


Our members are readers. We asked what magazines they like to read
and we had many more titles than respondents. We've dispersed them
into two categories: dental or professional and strictly consumer.
Here's how it plays out:

Dental Magazine readership reported ... and the winner is:

THE DENTAL ASSISTANT! Read by 52% of those responding!

Other Publications                       Read by # of Respondents

Certified Press (DANB's newsletter)               10
RDH                                                8
Contemporary Dental Assisting                      6
JADA                                               4
Compendium                                         3
OSAP                                               3
Dental Assisting Digest (PennWell on-line)         2

One mention each: Access, California Dental Assistants publication,
Dental Economics, Dentistry Today, Medical Assistant, New Hampshire
Dental Association publication, Pennsylvania Dental Assistants
Publication, Practice Management.


... and the winner is People with 25% of those responding.

Additional publications (percentage): Readers Digest (19%); Better
Homes and Gardens (15%); Good Housekeeping (13%); Family Circle
(12%); Taste of Home (12%); Health (11%); Time (11%); Redbook
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.