- Inflation and Rising costs
There is no business community or industry that is immune to inflation. Dentists and dental professionals are no exception. Commercial rent has been rising over the past decade and since 2020 rents have increased a minimum of 4% at in many areas 8-10%. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Raw material prices continue to soar and shortages are a reality that every business owner and every consumer face on a daily basis. The trajectory of fuel prices continues so the relief on basic supplies is nowhere to be seen. At the same time wages are stagnant so dentists raising prices is not really an option. Prices on dental supplies has also increased and many dental product retailers are raising prices as the 2nd quarter ends. Dentists are going to have to be savvy to stay profitable. Marketing their more profitable services and buying dental supplies from smaller companies that have less overhead are 2 solutions dentists can implement immediately.
- Covid-19 and the next “Pandemic”
Going to the dentist at the height of the pandemic was extremely difficult. Many dental practices suffered losses on a scale they have never seen before. Many of the restrictions that were in place until a few months ago have been lifted, but dentists in general remain guarded and have kept many of the protocols in place. The fear is that Covid-19 will have a resurgence and lockdowns will resume. Dentists also fear losing critical staff that keep their practice running. Keeping safety measures in place is the right decision for dentists because the likelihood of the virus spreading in a dental office is much higher than your average grocery store or restaurant. There is a cost associated with the extra precautions and many dentists will have to get by seeing less patients. It does beat the alternative of having to close for extended periods or losing staff. Dentists taking these steps to be safer even when not required to will better prepare them for a Covid resurgence or an entirely new pandemic.
- Attracting and keeping new patients
The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends that adults visit the dentists 2x per year for regular cleanings and checkups. That adds up to millions of dental visits and that doesn’t even include elective or emergency procedures. With these numbers you would think that attracting new patients wouldn’t be an issue but dental patients need to be comfortable with their dentist and the dental industry has some of the most loyal consumers. Also there is a lot competition. Individual dentists are at the greatest disadvantage because they possess the least amount of resources when compared to a multi-dentist office or group practice. For the single dentist practice their marketing creativity will set them apart. Leveraging referrals, word of mouth and being technically literate in order to use social media and targeted online marketing could make the difference between a successful dental practice and closing your doors for good.
The burnout rate in dentistry is near the top when comparing it to almost any other medical profession. It’s a high risk, high stress profession that doesn’t have the same financial reward as other medical professions with similar barriers for entry and required technical mastery. In addition to that many dentists suffer with extreme back, shoulder, leg and neck issues. This is caused by the unnatural position dentists find themselves in for extended periods of time. Many dentists and dental professionals also experience mental health issues. It is well known that dentists as a group have a suicide rate that is well above the national average. On top of all of this they are also at a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases like Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis, HIV and of course the Corona virus.
This writing highlighted the biggest concerns for dentists, what wasn’t mentioned are the rewards. Dentistry is a top earning profession, so while there are financial considerations involved in becoming a dentist and practicing solo there are many opportunities in the profession to earn a very comfortable living. Another commonly overlooked factor is that dentists help people. Not only do they help patients with their overall health, they also help people restore their confidence and in many cases can turn a patient’s life around by improving or rebuilding their smile. Many of the concerns mentioned here can be mitigated, for instance a dental practice can significantly reduce their costs on supplies by shopping around and not getting locked into one the big 3 suppliers. Dentists can also educate themselves on all the different products that are offered and find products that are just as good or better than the name brand that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Taking extra safety precautions to protect them and their staff is an important step and should never be overlooked. Most importantly dentists have to be aware and proactive with their mental health. Having positive outlets and participating in activities outside of their practice that allow them to maintain balance will go a long way.