5 trends dentists are following in 2023

Digital innovation, DSO consolidation and medical-dental integration are just some of the few trends dental professionals plan to follow in 2023. 

Two dentists recently spoke with Becker's about the trends they are paying attention to this year. 

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

Benjamin Joy, DDS. Joy Dental Pines (Pembroke Pines, Fla.): Dentists should continue the trend of digitizing and automating as much as is reasonable in the dental office in 2023. If you’re still on paper charts and processing film, start there with practice management software and digital sensors. Then, consider an intraoral scanner (we use the iTero). Smile design software such as Smilefy or exocad would be a great follow up. 3D printing those smile designs on even a hobby-level printer like an Elegoo would be next. Then would come milling crowns from those digital impressions in house (Glidewell has a good one). Then consider adding radiograph reading software (Overjet). Done all that? How about an app that lets patients book appointments, pay bills, review treatment plans, etc. Digital is the way. 

Franklin Woo, DDS. Dental Director at Blue Shield of California: For 2023, the emerging trends in dentistry will be:

  1. The growth of teledentistry. The trend was accelerated in medicine during the recent reaction to the virus pandemic but it is finally catching on in dentistry. Many insurance companies now provide this service as a benefit for their clients. Obviously, not every dental service is appropriate for teledentistry, but it seems to work well when a patient needs to be seen for a postoperative visit after oral surgery, for some orthodontic visits and for emergency complaints due to pain and swelling. In the case of pain and swelling, the dentist can perform a “face-to-face” tele-visit and prescribe the appropriate medications to medically stabilize the patient until then can be seen in the office for actual treatment. I have also noticed patients needing to be examined for an oral appliance for sleep apnea are increasingly using teledentistry to perform the required dental examination by the sleep medicine dentist. 
  2. Another trend dentists should be aware of is the use of “do-it-yourself” orthodontics.  I have recently noticed many television commercials encouraging patients to buy orthodontic kits at their local pharmacy. The advertisements focus on the convenience factor and low cost of such treatments. Whether or not this trend will lead to less (or more) visits to an orthodontist waits to be seen. 
  3. The growth of DSOs in the industry. There is a growing trend of large organizations opening dental offices or buying out private dental offices and converting these offices into part of a large DSO. Certainly, newly graduated dentists may be able to find employment in such organizations to begin paying on their school loans soon after graduating from dental school. On the flip side of this trend is the possible loss of the private dentist owner treating patients he or she has built a long-term relationship [with]. 
  4. There is growing interest in medicine and dentistry for closer integration when developing new plans and benefits made available to clients. There is certainly an effort at Blue Shield of California to move in this direction in 2023.

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