The influence of corporate dentistry has caused big shifts in the industry, and evidence suggests that growth of competition in the marketplace isn’t slowing down any time soon. A 2014 research brief from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute  found an increase in market share for dental firms of 20 employees or more from 2002 to 2012 (15.7% – 20.1%), while smaller outfits with fewer than five employees showed a decrease (19.9% – 16%) in the same period.
Rapid growth in the number of establishments and employees accounted for by the largest dental firms also suggests an increase in consolidation amongst the largest multi-establishment chains. Finally, a 2014 HPI research brief  also showed that the per capita supply of dentists in the U.S. increased from 2003 to 2013, and will continue to grow through 2033, meaning we could be seeing an expanding supply of dentists alongside a flattening demand for dental care.
This data only serves to confirm what most dentists — sole proprietors and corporate alike — already know: the current level of competition is unprecedented in dentistry, and it’s only going to grow. So then how do you stand out? If you own your own small practice, how do you attract new patients and convince them to stay loyal to your office, when there are three new outfits opening on your block? If you’re part of a corporate chain, how do you fulfill your investors’ expectations? And if your eye is on retirement, how do you maximize the value of your practice before you sell?
Despite the wide range of challenges faced by practices of different size, a balanced financial strategy can help nearly every dental office stand out from the competition by increasing lead generation, patient loyalty, and growth of practice revenue. In our next post, we’ll look at how dental practices of different shapes and sizes are applying and benefiting from creative financial strategies.
 Thomas Wall, M.A., M.B.A.; Albert H. Guay, D.M.D. Very Large Dental Practices Seeing Significant Growth in Market Share. Health Policy Institute Research Brief. American Dental Association. August 2014. Munson B, Vujicic M. Supply of dentists in the United States is likely to grow. Health Policy Institute Research Brief. American Dental Association. October 2014.