3 financial challenges facing dental practices today

Low reimbursements and rising wages are just some of the many challenges facing dental practices today. 

Here, three dentists shared with Becker's how these challenges are affecting the dental industry:

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

Charles Schlesinger, DDS. Comfortable Dentistry 4U (Albuquerque, N.M.): I would have to say it is the struggle of decreasing reimbursement by insurance companies and state aid. This makes it very difficult to stay profitable when you use the highest quality materials combined with the increased cost of doing business all around.

Cyrous Sheikh, DDS. Discovery Children's Dentistry & Orthodontics (Carlsbad, Calif.): Tough question because I think we have multiple serious financial threats. Cost of employees in my area has grown faster than inflation but our reimbursement has not. Therefore my labor cost went from 25 percent of total to closer to 29 percent. This percentage is the first time I've seen this in 20 years! Second is probably a silent one but all the Economic Injury Disaster Loans are coming due at a bad time with no relief!

Douglas Solow, DDS. Professor, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs and Director of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry Faculty Practice at University of Southern California (Los Angeles): At least for dentistry in California, the greatest financial burden is being able to provide sufficient wages to attract and retain personnel. Substantial increases in minimum wage requirements have pushed up the amount necessary to be competitive at the minimum, and this has in turn affected wages at higher levels. The California state minimum wage will rise to $15.50 for 2023. Within the County of Los Angeles, the minimum wage is currently $15.96 and within the City of Los Angeles it is $16.04. 

Simply put, it is more difficult to recruit people for positions that require a mix of responsibility, critical thinking and compassion when they could obtain a comparable hourly rate while flipping hamburgers. In order to continue to provide dental services, costs will need to be passed on to patients, who will find themselves paying more for both hamburgers and dental treatment.

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