It feels like a challenging time for dental practices. While there are always difficulties facing dental practices, it seems as if there are many factors coming together to make this a hard time for our Denture Fountain of Youth® dentists. 

Recently, the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute released its monthly survey about the economic outlook of dental practices across the country. The survey started in January 2022, so this marks the first time we have a full year of results to look back on, helping us understand the evolving state of dentistry now. It gives name to many of the challenges we’re facing, and we’ll talk about these challenges so that you, like the majority of dentists, can feel confident about the state of your dental practice, if not the economy as a whole. 

wooden blocks creating a path for a drawn figure to cross

Top Challenges Facing Dentists

This survey of over 3000 dentists went out during the week of January 16, 2023. The HPI collected and analyzed the responses of over 1200 dentists, nearly 1100 of whom were owner dentists. About 1000 of these dentists were general practitioners, with the remainder in various specialties. This makes the survey at least reasonably representative of our FOY® Dentures dentists, who are largely owner dentists and general practitioners. 

These dentists identified several major challenges facing their practice in the next six months. Asked to choose the top 3 challenges, the most common responses were:

  • Staffing (66%)
  • Inflation, overhead, and rising costs (40%)
  • Insurance issues, such as low reimbursement (39%)
  • Performance of the economy (13%)
  • Maintaining patient volume (13%)
  • Maintaining production and cash flow (12%)

These challenges break down fairly cleanly into three tiers of concerns, with staffing at the top, inflation and reimbursement, followed by economy, patient volume, and production. 

Staffing Challenges

Staffing challenges have been dogging dental practices since the survey began. In fact, one of the striking factors of this survey is how little the top concern has changed. In January 2022, 69% of dentists said hiring was one of their top challenges, which improved only slightly this year. The two top positions practices are seeking also remain hard to fill. In January 2022, 91.1% of dentists said it was extremely challenging or very challenging to hire a dental hygienist, compared to 93.7% this month. In January 2022, 86.7% of dentists gave the same response for dental assistants, compared to 85.3% this month. 

The best way to address hiring challenges is to retain your current staff. We’ve written before about how to get and maintain a great dental team

Inflation, Overhead, and Rising Costs

Surprisingly, inflation and rising costs are only slightly more of a concern now than in 2022 (40% in 2023 vs. 35% in 2022). 

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to easily address this difficult problem. With a domestic supply chain for FOY ® Dentures, you can’t even expect benefits from the strong dollar we can expect thanks to rising interest rates. You’ll likely have to do what nearly ¾ of dentists are doing: raising costs to cover your own increased costs. 

Insurance Issues

Many FOY® Dentures dentists have gotten tired of dealing with insurance companies, in part because of their low compensation rates, as well as their restrictive controls over dental procedures. 

Being a FOY® Dentures dentist helps protect you from these concerns. FOY® Dentures are not an insurance-based procedure, and they attract patients who aren’t trying to get insurance to cover the procedure. The more of this type of patient you can attract, the less you have to worry about insurance reimbursement issues. 

The Economy, Patient Volume, and Cash Flow

As with rising costs, there are no magic bullets to address these problems. However, these concerns are of a lower order than the ones we’ve already discussed, and with good reason. Although there are some concerns about the economy,  there are many signs that it remains surprisingly robust, despite inflation and despite rising interest rates. Take the strong recent jobs report, for example. As long as the economy remains stable, dentists offering quality FOY® Dentures shouldn’t have difficulty maintaining patient volume and therefore keeping a good cash flow. 

However, if you are finding it difficult, revisit a few of the topics we’ve addressed recently, such as leveraging the core value of FOY® Dentures, using social media effectively (while using influencers judiciously), and maximizing satisfaction to improve reviews and referrals. 

You’ve Got This

Although there are certainly challenges facing all dental practices right now, as well as our member dentists, none of them are insurmountable. We know that you have the tools to maintain success with FOY ® Dentures despite the current turbulence in the economy and in the industry.