Consolidation, rising costs, increased workforce: What 4 dentists predict for the industry

As the dental industry evolves under growing DSO presence, new technology and CMS changes, many dentists are wondering what the field will look like in the next five years.

Four dentists share their predictions:

Charles Schlesinger, DDS. Comfortable Dentistry 4U (Albuquerque, N.M.): We will see an increase in offices that are owned by DSOs and there will be the start of a convergence between these DSOs and the major players in the medical field. The result will either be the DSOs owned outright or extensively partnered with these hospital organizations.

David Chei, DMD. Arlington (Texas) Dental Associates: We will see more consolidation in terms of DSOs having a larger share of the market. I also expect that a higher percentage of dental school graduates will be working for DSOs. Economically, it will be very hard for new graduates who typically have a tremendous student loan burden to have the capacity or resources to start a de novo practice or buy an existing practice. Many older practices in certain markets will have a hard time finding buyers for their practices. Also, due to rising costs of running a dental office in terms of labor, supplies and laboratory, fees for dental services will rise faster than inflation and many patients will not be able to afford dental care. I also expect that many dental offices will be forced to join DSOs or join other private practices to form group practice settings to increase purchasing power/leverage and reduce costs.

Huzefa Kapadia, DDS. Kapadia Dental Care (Waterford Mich.): The dental industry is headed toward more DSOs dominating the dental field. Solo practitioners will become a smaller pool. It's becoming much harder to deal with dental insurance headaches, billing and staff management. [It's] very hard to find reliable and qualified staff.

Another issue is rocketing dental school tuition [with an average of] $400k for four years of dental school. Saturation of dentists has been quite apparent, especially in suburbs ... Dental schools are pumping out more dental students due to the economics of running a dental school clinic.

Chris Salierno, DDS. Chief Dental Officer of Tend (New York City): The most significant economic influence on the dental profession is the increasing supply of dentists. The [American Dental Association's] Health Policy Institute recently updated their projections for the number of practicing dentists to increase through 2040. Just about every prediction for the dental industry should keep this data point in mind. The growth of DSOs, greater geographic distribution of dentists, increasing purchases of consumables and technology, these are just a few of the trends that will be heavily influenced by two more decades of increasing dentist supply.

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