The 'Bermuda Triangle' of challenges facing dentistry, per 1 dentist

Dental insurance companies, dental schools and DSOs are pushing the dental industry into a "Bermuda Triangle" of challenges, according to one dental practice owner. 

Rajdeep Randhawa, DDS, is the owner of Innovative Dentistry in Colts Neck, N.J. He recently spoke with Becker's about the most worrisome challenges facing the dental industry today.

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

Question: What trends in the dental industry are you most afraid of?

Dr. Rajdeep Randhawa: There are a lot of trends in the dental industry that pop up every few months and then disappear over a limited period of time without causing any stir in the dental industry [because] dentistry is evolving at a very fast rate. As an independent fee-for-service dentist, I don't feel threatened or afraid of any of the new trends as I can proactively intercept them and take care of them even before they appear on the radar screen.

My concerns in the dental industry are related to the younger generation of dentists, dental hygienists and even dental assistants. Thousands of retiring dentists had to extend their retirement plans after the "Great Recession," disturbing the whole dental practice ecosystem. This led to the dental insurance industry tightening the screw on its in-network providers by practically freezing or lowering their compensations, questioning the majority of their claims or even denying totally legitimate claims to increase their profits. During the same time, the cost of education, the cost of setting up and running a dental practice, and the cost of human resources kept going up, with a major dent in practice revenues during the "Covid downturn," making the dentist community realize their addiction to the "all-for-profit" insurance industry was a very big liability they had been carrying for a long time. 

The highly calculative DSO community saw this terrible weakness in the whole dental profession [and] swooped in with all their might to rapidly expand in the dental profession at the fastest rate possible they could with no resistance from the ADA or the state boards of dentistry to protect the already weakened dental profession by continuous exploitation by the insurance industry over last 50 years.

Another trend in dentistry worth mentioning is that the majority of the dental student community [is] carrying a huge debt load approaching half a million dollars or more with substantial debt payments. After adding even more debt for cars and homes, they become "easy targets" of all different types of corporate dentistry, as they are not taught anything about the business of dentistry in dental schools and none have the experience or courage to go into private practice that many dentists from the earlier generations did because they had much lower debt loads upon graduation, much less competition, much more courage and a more receptive patient base to help them succeed!

To summarize, the most worrisome trend for the whole dental profession [is that it is being pushed] into a sort of "Bermuda Triangle" where a lot of greedy eagles are swooping on the dental profession at the same time.

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