Top challenges facing independent dentists in 2023

Workforce shortages, rising costs and supply chain issues are some of the challenges dentists anticipate facing in 2023. 

Two dentists recently spoke with Becker's about the challenges facing independent dentists this year. 

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

Colleen DeLacy, DDS (Sandusky and Lexington, Mich.): There are many challenges we face regularly, but for the first time in my career I am very concerned about the lack of potential staff.   I consider myself lucky that my team returned in its entirety after the shutdown (I was closed for 13 weeks) in 2020. I am concerned about the lack of individuals with any sense of loyalty or pride in the work. This is not a career I feel you can just jump into and do it. Additionally, the backfire of the increased spending people appeared to have immediately after the beginning of COVID is starting to become more evident. With the inflation that is present, discretionary spending is going to come to a fast end.  

Bruce Smoler, DDS. Smoler Smiles Family & Implant Dentistry (Westland, Mich.): As an independent group practice in one location, the biggest challenge facing us in 2023 is, in a word: operations. The ability to get stuff done. The challenge is adjusting the way we do things to a completely different operating environment. The days of having a solid, complete staff present on a daily basis is long gone. We morphed into a more fluid, reactionary organization due to the constant changes and challenges on a day-to-day basis. With a constant ebb and flow of personnel, supply issues with vendors, labs, [original equipment manufacturers] and contractors, our facility expansion plans have been stymied at times. We have adapted to get more done with less hands on deck. We have ordered more instruments to reduce the bottleneck of fewer entry-level workers to help run sterilization. We have morphed into a less dependent hygiene-driven office due to the limitations in hygienists within our office staff. We have hired outside dental recruiters for the first in my 30-plus-year career. We have various outreach programs to local banks and credit unions as a response to the ultra-high third-party patient funding services we offer, i.e. CareCredit, LendingClub and Proceed Finance.

To summarize, in spite of many headwinds, we have grown our business 47 percent on average for the past three years. To continue to expand and grow, we must stiffen our resolve, increase our intentions and purposefully thwart the "doom and gloom" naysayers from entering our environment. By being steadfast in our mission, to help change lives by changing smiles, we will continue to attract, help and convert those most in need of our services. If not us, who? If not now, when and who are we to deny our patients the care and full arch implant supported services so darn important to their lives.

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.

Featured Learning Opportunities

Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Podcast