The movements 12 dental leaders are tracking heading into 2024

The training of new dentists, the upward impact of DSOs and the rise of medical-dental integration are three trends that leaders in the dental industry are following.

The leaders featured in this article are all speaking at Becker's 2024 dental conferences. This includes our Spring Future of Dentistry Roundtable, which is set for June 19-21 at the Swissotel in Chicago, and our Fall Future of Dentistry Roundtable, which is set for Oct. 30-Nov. 1 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

If you work at a DSO or dental practice and would like to be considered as a speaker, contact Randi Haseman at rhaseman@beckershealthcare.com.

As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who will speak at our roundtables. The following are answers from our speakers at the events.

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

Question: What are the biggest trends in the dental and/or healthcare industries you are currently following?

Will Alexander. Senior Vice President, Enterprise Operations and Chief Information Officer of Benevis (Atlanta): One of the biggest trends in healthcare involves the ability to meet consumers where they are. It matters because convenience and ease of access are highly important to patients when they are deciding where to receive their dental care. Cancellations and no-shows present big barriers for any dental practice. By offering more flexible office hours that work well for busy families, Benevis is actively addressing the trend and improving patient show rates.

Robert Blashka, DDS. Adjunct professor of Nova Southeast University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): First and foremost is the rise of the DSOs. Their impact on dentistry is enormous, both from the financial and clinical approach. They have changed the way dentistry is being practiced. Young dentists are being ingrained into a completely different way of practicing. There is some good and some bad that arises. 

Tanya Burnette. Director of Marketing, Compliance and Special Products of Destiny Dental Care (Oak Park, Ill.): I would say one of the biggest trends I have been following the longest over my career would be dentist/dental professional engagement and social media presences. Granted it very well might be the newer generations, but the dramatic change over the past 20 years has been prevalent. Society as a whole is now engulfed in social media and media channels versus mainstream media, given they have more freedoms and options to control their content. To see how the dental Industry has run with this trend is fascinating. In my personal opinion, it has been great to partake and watch how it has evolved. Seeing how providers/professionals are having fun doing what they love while providing education to the public/followers. Certainly, it has been amazing to watch this trend develop over the years. Which I also would like to mention, has helped open those doors into other tech interests such as AI into our industry as well. 

Bryan Carey. CEO of Benevis (Atlanta): There’s an upward trend in a younger generation of dentists interested in joining DSOs, and our growth at Benevis aligns with these findings from the Health Policy Institute. Interestingly, DSO affiliation and interest in practicing in a larger group is much higher for dentists in the earlier phases of their careers vs. the later phases. This year at Benevis, we’ve seen a substantial uptick in newly graduated dentists joining us because of the support and mentorship we offer them as they begin their dental careers.

Matt Carlston, DMD. Dentist at Comfort Dental (Lakewood, Colo.): The biggest dentistry trend that we continue to follow is the training of newer dentists. They are increasingly able to perform fewer procedures while in dental school, leading to many graduating with very limited experience due to the number of dental schools. AI and other digital trends will continue to be something that grows in dentistry but if a doctor is unable to properly perform the bread and butter of dentistry, then digital trends will not help them cut a class II prep or properly anesthetize a patient. We feel that there is too much focus by new docs on the latest innovations when they should be focused on becoming better clinicians. We try to walk a fine line between helping introduce newer technologies into practices to helping younger docs get the reps needed to allow them to become successful and perform excellent dentistry.

Mark Doherty, DMD. Endodontist and Partner of South Coast Endodontics (New Bedford, Mass.): One trend that we at D4 Practice Solutions are following and consulting on is medical-dental integration. Interestingly enough, medical-dental integration has been delivered in federally qualified health centers for many years, but just now gaining traction in the private medical-dental space. With the voluminous data linking oral health to overall health, people are taking more of an interest in this area to help improve chronic disease management. With more procedures being reimbursed and as person-centered care continues to be a focal point, taking a multidisciplinary team-based approach and implementing medical-dental integration into our programs could be a more common practice of the future. 

Toshi Hart, DDS. Owner of Toshi Hart DDS (Modesto, Calif.): I have put down my handpiece for traditional dentistry and treating the root cause of cavities and possibly many other medical conditions in 3 phases: Prevention, maintenance and rehabilitation.

Haim Haviv. Founder and CEO of Hudson Dental (New York City): I've been following two main trends: First is the number of hygiene students, a leading indicator for RDH staffing, which suggests some future easing. Second is the increasing number of rural practices that shut down rather than transitioned. This is especially worrisome as it creates dental deserts for many American families that live outside of the big metropolitan areas.

David Ortiz. Director of Operations of Secure Dental (East Peoria, Ill.): In dentistry, we've seen significant advancements in technology that have been long overdue. Especially related to digital dentistry, clinics are looking to be more cost-effective, more efficient and less clinically invasive. This includes the adoption of intraoral scanners, 3D printing and advanced dental procedures. It's a competitive landscape, and there is a significant focus on patient engagement and service, with many clinics deploying advanced communication tools and resources.

Lane Theriault. CEO of Independence Dental (Dallas): Restorative procedure D2991 (application of hydroxyapatite regeneration medicament) has got to be the most interesting development in dental this year. The ability to regrow teeth is an absolute game changer and will greatly improve patient health outcomes in our field. It’s a huge leap in care that should be recognized!

Jaisri Thoppay, DDS. Owner and dentist of Center for Integrative Oral Health, Inc. (Winter Park, Fla.): Prominent developments in dental and healthcare encompassed the increasing embrace of cutting-edge digital technologies, notably those infused with artificial intelligence. Particularly in healthcare, there are notable shifts including the widespread adoption of remote consultations, a notable upswing in electronic health records advancements and the proliferation of wearable devices. Moreover, the heightened utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning for diagnostic purposes and personalized medicine emerged as a noteworthy trend. While the transition to value-based care models has been slower in dentistry, a significant acceleration is anticipated in 2024. Overall, a growing emphasis on patient-centric care, aiming to enhance satisfaction and engagement, also remains a focal point. These trends collectively strive to enhance accessibility, efficiency in dentistry, as well as healthcare outcomes holistically.

Robert Trager, DDS. Dentist at JFK Airport (New York City): Insurance companies do not have the administrative staff to process claims, so they outsource to other companies to save money. The ones getting hurt are the big DSOs that bill out a large amount every month. Many states have put in laws that fees have to be used for member services for reimbursements, but they aren’t really doing it and reimbursement rates are not keeping up with inflation.

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