How dentists view DSOs in 2024

An increasing number of dentists have become more open to joining DSOs as these organizations work to refute misconceptions and support dental professionals, according to Barry Lyon, DDS.

Barry Lyon, DDS, is a chief dental officer for the division of orthodontics and pediatric dentistry for Dental Care Alliance. He recently spoke with Becker's about how dentists' perception of DSOs is changing, and how that change is affecting consolidation trends.

Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a weekly series featuring Dr. Lyon focused on topics in the dental industry and DSO field. This response was lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: How do dentists view DSOs in 2024?

Dr. Barry Lyon: According to the American Dental Association, 8.8% of dentists were affiliated with a DSO in 2017. That number rose to 10.4% in 2019, and to 13% in 2023. Digging deeper, 23% of those polled in 2023 were younger dentists up to 10 years out of dental school. Marko Vujicic, PhD, ADA chief economist and vice president of the Health Policy Institute, remarked, "Our updated data show higher rates of dentist affiliation with DSOs as well as less dentists in solo practice and more in groups." Is this a clear trend that dentistry is accepting the DSO model?

DSOs have worked hard to dispel the rumors surrounding them. One of the main fears dentists had about DSOs was that their autonomy would be threatened and clinical decisions would be made by non-dentists. DSOs knew this was a prime concern and have made every effort to provide the best possible non-clinical support and preserve the dentist’s clinical autonomy. 

What does the future bring? The substantial growth trajectory of the global DSO market anticipates a promising future with a projected market size of $765.20 billion by 2030. The DSO market is experiencing a remarkable compound annual growth rate of 11.3% during the forecast period spanning from 2024 to 2030. In the U.S., the proportion of dental offices affiliated with a DSO was estimated at approximately 23% in 2022 and is forecast to grow to around 39% by 2026, according to LEK Consulting.

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