Why private dental practice isn't going anywhere

As the trend of affiliating with DSOs continues to gain traction, the fate of private practices comes into question.

Lee Harris, DDS, a dentist at Harris Dental Solutions in Los Angeles, connected with Becker's to discuss private practice's place in the future.

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Lee Harris: There are many private dentists that are not going to sell out to DSOs. Although there are a lot that are right now because there's a lot of money in the marketplace.

When I was growing up, one of the main draws to dentistry was that it's a small business where someone who wants to be in their own private little world can be an entrepreneur without having to own 20 different offices. They could be happy with one or maybe two offices and deliver high-quality dentistry and get to really know their patients. That's what the draw is for the private practice patient. That's why private practices will continue to exist and flourish as we go forward.

When you work in a DSO, the dentists change rapidly. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, for some people that gives them greater access to care and that's great. But that doesn't mean that it's the end-all-be-all for all dentists. I always think that dentistry has been a cottage industry since its beginnings and it will remain a majority cottage industry going forward.

There's plenty of room for dentists who want to be in DSOs, and I think they serve a great purpose. Young dentists out of school can't afford to open up a dental practice. They're strapped with all these expensive loans and they're looking for good jobs and DSOs provide that.

There's room in this world for anybody who wants to practice dentistry in whatever manner they want to practice.

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