Progress on Dental Staffing Shortages in NY

Progress on Dental Staffing Shortages in NY

The NY State Dental Association (NYSDA) has recognized the extreme challenges most dentists and dental specialists in New York have experienced recently in staffing their practices.  NYSSO was at the forefront of bringing this issue to NYSDA’s attention and collected data to both quantify the problem and examine how other states have successfully addressed the same issue.  NYSDA formed a Workforce Action Group composed of subject matter experts as well as representatives from the relevant NYSDA councils; they examined factors influencing the shortage and proposed solutions.  This special task force convened multiple times from January to April 2024 and sent two resolutions to the NYSDA BOT:


  1. Creation of the “On-the-Job Trained Dental Assistant” Tier

This change would legally create a new tier of dental assistants who would complete a short infection control course and be trained on the job by a supervising dentist.  The scope of practice for these On-the-Job Trained Dental Assistants will include low-risk remediable tasks that assistants may safely be trained to perform by licensed dentists, under direct supervision, including the following:

  • Taking 2D and 3D photography of dentition
  • Placing, wedging, and removing matrix bands
  • Placing and removing rubber dams or other isolation devices
  • Taking impressions
  • Applying topical fluoride and other topical agents such as benzocaine
  • Preparing teeth with etchant in preparation for restorative or orthodontic procedures
  • Light-curing composite
  • Taking dental radiographs
  • Tying and untying orthodontic ligatures, separators, and placing preformed arch wires; pre-fitting orthodontic bands prior to final placement by the dentist
  • Performing any other remediable procedures that the board may deem appropriate in the future

This would eliminate the need for an assistant to have an RDA license in order to perform the basic duties of an orthodontic assistant in the state.


  1. Expansion of the Pathways to Becoming a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)

This change would align New York’s requirements for becoming a Registered Dental Assistant with the Dental Assistant National Board’s (DANB) requirements for becoming a Certified Dental Assistant.  In particular, it would allow foreign-trained dentists and dental hygienists or dental assistants with more than 3500 hours of work experience to bypass the formal education requirement New York currently has for the RDA.

Both resolutions were discussed by the NYSDA BOT meeting in April 2024 and referred to the Council on Dental Education and Licensure (CDEL).  It is expected that CDEL will review the merits of these resolutions in the year 2024-25 and then make a recommendation to the NYSDA BOT and HOD, to be voted on at the HOD meeting in June 2025.

One resolution written by NYSSO and submitted via NYCDS to the NYSDA HOD in June 2023 was the extension of the term for the RDA Limited Permit.  This resolution was also referred to CDEL at that time.  CDEL and the NYSDA BOT recommended that the Limited Permit be extended from a maximum of 2 years to a maximum of 3 years, and the HOD voted to support this change as well.  In the next several months, NYSDA Government Affairs will be working closely with state lobbyists to garner support from the state legislators who would need to sponsor and vote for a bill to make this change official in the New York State dental practice act.  It is anticipated that the change would pass in the upcoming legislative session that runs from 2025-2026.  AAO’s Advocacy team has also secured lobbyist funding through the AAO component legal support fund to aid in this effort and the anticipated efforts needed should NYSDA agree to advance the other resolutions put forth by the Workforce Action Group.

All NESO member orthodontists in New York are encouraged to contact their NYSDA district representatives to CDEL as well as their district trustees and express the urgency of the staffing shortage and voice support for these resolutions. NESO and NYSSO leadership continues to work tirelessly to make a meaningful change to this problem faced by nearly every orthodontist in the state.  It takes time but persistence in grassroots efforts is key!

CDEL MEMBERS 2024-2025


Dr. Renee Pompei
Treasurer, NESO
New York, NY