Written by Erik K. Curtis, DDS, MA, MAGD and reprinted with permission from AGD Impact, October 2012. (c)Academy of General Dentistry. All rights reserved. On the Web at www.agd.org. License #37166
America loves big business. Never mind the warnings of philosophers and other naysayers. For every Occupy Wall Street curmudgeon huddling under a leaky tent to protest stratospheric CEO incomes, a million of his compatriots get in line at the local Apple store to purchase the company's latest and greatest products. For every crusader decrying the ethics of the bottom line, an army of analysts crisply...
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The number of large dental practices has risen 25% in just two years, according to the ADA, and although many of them have their own on-site laboratories, they often work with independent laboratories as well. In fact, nearly one-quarter of respondents to an LMT survey say they work with at least one of these large practices.
Although the technical day-to-day routine of working with large practices isn't much different than working with smaller practices, there are some differences from a business standpoint. For example, while members of a group practice sometimes contract with one laboratory,...
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The changing demographics of the dental field could bode well for laboratories. There are more general practitioners and prosthodontists, more dental consumers and fewer laboratories. In other words, the potential client base per laboratory is growing.
Here's a look at the shifting demographics between 1998 and 2011:
The number of laboratories declined 12.5%, from approximately 12,000 to 10,500. The number of GPs and prosthodontists increased 17%, from 133,623 to 156,011. This means the ratio of dentists to labs increased from 11:1 to 15:1.
The ratio of adult patients (20 years or older) to...
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Although large, professionally managed group practices still only represent a small segment (7 to 8%) of the dental profession, their explosive growth in the last few years indicates that the trend will continue. That means there's also a growing opportunity for dental technicians at these practices' on-site or centralized laboratories.
Given the size of the companies, many of these practices offer comprehensive benefits packages, training programs and opportunities for advancement that are often difficult to find in small, independent laboratories. It's also a great opportunity for technicians...
Between 1986 and 2001, seven dental schools closed their doors. However, in the past several years, that trend has reversed: To meet the growing demand for careers in dentistry, seven new predoctoral dental programs opened in the U.S. since 2011, bringing the total number of active schools to 65. Add to that the fact that several existing schools* are investing in and/or expanding their facilities or programs and it's clear: dental education is booming.
The above map shows the new dental schools opened in the past two years.
*These dental schools have either recently expanded their enrollment...
On the heels of LMT's September special coverage, The Changing Landscape of Dentistry, about the changing demographics, business models and other factors influencing your client base, the ADA just released an in-depth report, A Profession in Transition: Key Forces Reshaping the Dental Landscape, touching on many of the same topics.
Here are some key findings from the report:
Per capita expenditures are expected to grow over the coming decades, but at a very slow rate. In 2010, per capita dental expenditures were $269. Projected expenditures range from a conservative $277 to an optimistic $325...