Private equity is boosting dentistry, but with a cost, 1 dentist says

Private equity companies have promoted growth and innovation in the dental industry, but increased competition is leading to an uneven playing field for aspiring private practice owners.

Devin Hall, DMD, of Chandler Park Dental Care in Bowling Green, Ky., recently spoke with Becker's about the impact of private equity in dentistry.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Question: Is private equity hurting or benefitting the dental industry? 

Dr. Devin Hall: Private equity has been good in many ways. It has injected cash into the dental industry that wasn't there previously. Doctors have been able to sell their practices for larger amounts than was previously possible. It has created competition in the industry, both on the practice side and the supply and equipment side, that forces innovation and improvement in quality of care, services and products. 

The negative of this, especially in private practices, is the necessity to compete with deep pocket investors that the average dentist can't feasibly match up against. The same private equity dollars that have provided selling doctors with more cash upon a sale have also increased the purchase price for private practice dentists looking to buy a practice. This prevents younger dentists from being able to purchase a private practice as easily. 

All of the above are examples of capitalism and a free market economy, of which I am wholeheartedly supportive. Therefore, to say that private equity money in dentistry is all bad would be anti-capitalistic (in my mind), and I'm unwilling to take that leap. It isn't all bad; it has provided an injection of cash into the sector, driven innovation and allowed for doctors to transition out of their practices in a manner that was uncommon 10 to 15 years ago. It will, however, contribute to the continuing decrease of private practice ownership, especially among younger dentists.

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