Why 4 dentists see the corporate DSO takeover as the most dangerous trend in dentistry

Four dentists recently shared with Becker's what they feel is the most dangerous trend facing dentistry — DSOs and private equity taking over private practices. 

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

Question: What do you see as the most dangerous trend in dentistry?

Ken Allen, DMD. Sloop Dental (Chicago): The inevitable progression to corporate takeover. Increasing inflation and overhead cost in combination with lowered or stagnant reimbursements from insurance will put stress on private practices unable to get a seat at the table when discussing fee schedules. The ADA and state dental societies seem to continue to sit on the sidelines while the profession is being transformed into stock price.  

Robert Bang, DDS. Children's Dental Group (Ridgecrest, Calif.): I believe the most dangerous trend in dentistry is the "corporatization" of the profession. Dentistry was once almost exclusively composed of sole proprietors, or small business owners if you will. The owner or owners' name was on the door, and they stood behind the quality of their work. They didn't need to micromanage the numbers of their practice. They just took care of people, did what they felt was right, and made a nice living doing it. 

Now with DSOs and large corporations taking up a greater percentage of the practices every year, our profession is changing, and not in a good way. Instead of practice owners, many dentists are just simply employees. Doctors are told to make quotas on production; this does not keep the patient's best interest in mind. I firmly believe that healthcare practices should be run by healthcare providers, not by anyone else. 

Allen Dorsey, DDS. Dorsey Dental Services (Houston): The most dangerous trend is DSO infiltration into state dental boards to change laws in order to benefit themselves!

Owen Waldman, DMD. Waldman Dental Group (Scottsdale, Ariz.): The most dangerous trend in dentistry is by far the rapid growth of private equity and DSOs in the dental space. It's great right now for dentists who are looking to retire relatively soon because it's a fairly early time for these groups trying to gobble up as many practices as possible with all their extra cash from the COVID years. Dentists are getting overpaid for what their practices are worth, so it's a no brainer for many of them — they get to keep practicing as they did and are paid a boatload of money more than they would have. However, once they retire, those practices will simply defer to the corporate model that is based primarily on numbers, as they hire new doctors who will never be majority owners and never have a final say on how things are run. They will simply get a piece of the action, but will be nothing more than high-paid employees with a piece of the pie. 

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