How dentists have seen the industry evolve in the past 5 years

DSOs having an increased market share, private equity and the growth of digital dentistry are three of the biggest evolutions dentists have seen over the past five years.

Here, six dentists answered the question: What have been the biggest changes in the dental industry over the past five years?

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Robert Bang, DDS. Children's Dental Group (Ridgecrest, Calif.): I think the biggest change is the increase in the market share that the DSOs have taken. Every day, dentistry is becoming more and more corporate as DSOs increase their prominence in the marketplace and the solo and small group practitioners decline. 

Michael Davis, DMD. Smiles of Santa Fe (N.M.): These last five years will be viewed as the "good old days" of private equity extracting money from the dental industry. Practices were sold for outrageous amounts. DSOs were rolled over once, twice, or even three times to the latest private equity firm to hold the DSO in their portfolio. Those days of wild expansion are dramatically tapering off. Much more planning is involved today with de novo start-ups and practice purchases. Many dentists who sold their practices to DSOs will never see the promised back-end payment. 

Richard Evanseck, DDS (Marion, Ind.): Intrusion of corporate dentistry into the private practice model.

Amanda Grimshaw, DDS. Kuhn Dental Associates (Aberdeen, N.C.): The most challenging thing over the past five years is without a doubt navigating how we practice with respect to COVID-19. From March 2020 on it was a consistent challenge on many fronts, from helping patients get healthy to keeping a full staff to procuring proper supplies. I personally am very happy to have COVID in the rearview mirror at this point.   

Charles Schlesinger, DDS. COO of Comfortable Dentistry 4U (Albuquerque, N.M.): In the past five years it has been the growth of digital dentistry and its availability to all offices that may want to embrace this technology. 

Lawrence Schmakel, DDS. Sylvania Smile Design (Toledo, Ohio): Digital transition is in full swing in all areas of dental care. Digital impressions and one-appointment crowns are here to stay and growing daily. Digital advancements are proceeding in all aspects of care.

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