How dentists are working to drive down operating costs

Despite rising operating costs, insurance reimbursement rates for dentists have remained stagnant this year, according to an August poll by the American Dental Association's Health Policy Institute.

In order to thrive in today's economy, dentists have had to think outside the box to reduce operating costs.

Here are two dentists' methods for driving down operating costs:

Editor's note: These responses were edited lightly for clarity and brevity.

Matt Carlston, DMD. Vice President of Marketing and Partner Recruitment at Comfort Dental: [Comfort Dental] is founded on the idea of providing high quality dentistry in an affordable manner. Because we purchase supplies in bulk, this allows us to monitor our costs across our 10 states. As a dental franchise, we continually are negotiating prices with our vendors on behalf of our franchisees. This allows us to curb costs and keep our offices functioning with a lower than average overhead. We also anticipate staff salaries being approximately 20 percent of our total gross receipts for any month. With the increase in overall payroll it has become more important for business owners to limit overtime and maintain staff. We also operate three dental laboratories. We are able to keep our costs low and still provide high quality work for our patients. Operating these labs has allowed us to not raise costs on our doctors while other labs, who operate at a lower volume, have had to raise their lab fees to compensate for the current inflation.

Luke Morgan, DDS. Luke M. Morgan, D.D.S. and Associates (Mechanicsville, Md.): Our practice first obtained intraoral scanners for crown and bridge in 2019. We now have three scanners (two iTero and one Medit), cutting out a large volume of impression material, material waste, shipping and logistics.

We have had such good success with this implementation that we are now fully operational with 3D printing (Sprint Ray), having two printers in the office for model fabrication, denture and night guard fabrication. We are leveraging the technology to help provide the most up-to-date care and methods to our patients. The decrease in materials cost and need for less office visits is having an impact overall in efficiency and slight reductions in certain areas of operational expenses. It might seem counterintuitive, but we can deliver care to more patients, more efficiently, thus increasing our productivity and collections, thereby lowering the operational costs. All the while feeling less stress over the production, logistics and lab work we are making in the office or outsourcing.

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