Trey Lawrence, AAO Vice President and General Counsel, joined three New York state orthodontists – Dr. Renée Pompei, Dr. Ken Cooperman, and Dr. Yanique Le-Cadre at the New York State Board of Dentistry meeting in January to discuss with the Board the need to explore possible pathways to address workforce challenges and to address the shortage of dental assistants in New York.

The lack of assistants is affecting the ability of orthodontists to adequately handle the demand for care. Many U.S. AAO member practices have reported difficulty in hiring sufficient staff for their offices.

In 2021 the AAO developed a Workforce Shortage Task Force to explore and create a plan to address orthodontic staffing challenges, and New York has been identified as a state with particularly restrictive rules that limit the potential number of candidates for orthodontic assistant positions.

A recent workforce initiative in Michigan reached a successful conclusion with grassroots input from orthodontists practicing there.

Over 220 New York orthodontists also stepped up, signing a petition to demonstrate support for solutions to address workforce shortage challenges through the New York Board of Dentistry and the New York State Assembly. The issue has been referred to the Board’s Committee on Dental Assistants to make a specific recommendation on potential pathways to address rule changes. AAO staff and New York State Society of Orthodontists (NYSSO) leadership will continue working together on this important advocacy issue and exploring the best way to pursue policy changes that allow for a greater number of individuals to become dental assistants in orthodontic offices.

Through the Component Legal Support Fund last spring AAO advocacy staff began working with the NYSSO to engage and gain the support of key stakeholders (including the New York State Dental Association), gather data, and explore options for changes that would help address the shortage of dental assistants in New York.  AAO, NYSSO, and coalition partners in New York will continue working on this issue to find workforce solutions. 

Grassroots engagement from AAO members using their voices and influence makes all the difference advocating for necessary changes. 

In New York and across the country, the AAO is working with AAO members locally to help advance our policy priorities. Our AAO Political Action Committee helps fuel advocacy success not only in Washington, D.C. but in states across the country as well. Consider sharing your support for advocacy now by contributing at