What to expect from dentistry in 2024, per 4 dental leaders

Next year could bring increased use of various dental technologies, continued workforce challenges and more innovation in specialty services, according to four leaders in the field.

Four industry executives recently spoke with Becker's about their predictions for the dental industry in 2024. 

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

Avinash Bidra, BDS. Program Director, Maxillofacial Prosthodontist and Clinical Professor in the Department of Reconstructive Sciences at UCONN Health (Farmington, Conn.): The changes I expect to see in 2024 are: 

1. More penetration of digital dentistry into dental offices, especially intraoral scanners.

2. More DSO penetration into the market.

3. More artificial intelligence-based applications ranging from radiographic interpretation to dental marketing to practice management software. 

4. More innovations in implant dentistry and prosthodontics.

Angelina Hendricks. Chief Technology Officer at Planet DDS: Dental patients will continue to have a strong influence on trends within dental. While inflation has slowed down, interest rates remain historically high. What this means for dental practices is that they should look to improve all aspects of the patient experience by making it more convenient, increasing transparency and trust, and providing personalized, high-quality care. Patients are also setting higher expectations for practices to offer a better experience outside the chair, from easier communication and scheduling to payments. The other industry trend of challenges with attracting and retaining staff looks to continue into 2024. We expect to see more practices embracing artificial intelligence technologies, especially with the rise of dental AI imaging, as that sets the new standard of care and reduces staff burden.  

Scotte Hudsmith. Chair and CEO of Specialized Dental (Irving, Texas): I am most excited for the automation opportunities that are being driven by the acceleration of machine learning and artificial intelligence. These tools provide us with an opportunity to offset some of the labor shortage challenges that have faced us for the last few years. I further believe these tools will help us provide additional access to care through more efficient and convenient scheduling.  

Daniel Lingenfelter, DDS. Fitch Mountain Dental (Healdsburg, Calif.): In 2024, I think dentistry will continue to see improvement in reimbursement as more insurance companies are getting pushback and more providers drop insurance for a fee-for-service model. I think we will see more technology improvements such as artificial intelligence treatment planning and design work for digital milling and printing. I also think it's likely to see more outsourcing due to staffing shortages and increased cost of supplies.

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