Dentists don’t always practice in an office… Last week we talked about house call dentists, and this week we’re moving on to mobile dental vans.
Mobile dentist vans – which cost about half a million dollars each – are big business, wooing corporate clients with the promise of convenience and less missed work time for employees.
Mobile Dental Vans
Mobile dental clinics are best known for providing pediatric dentistry to low-income families, often in school-based programs. In addition to dentistry for children, these traveling clinics also serve indigent and at-risk populations.
But corporations are also getting in on the action. A mobile dentist who sets up shop in the parking lot can save a large company lots of employee hours that would have otherwise been lost traveling to and from the dental office.
Corporations don’t even have to pay for the service. One provider, Onsite Dental, just requires 60 feet of parking space and access to power. Their dental patient marketing team even pitches the service to employees.
Cisco Systems is one major company to use on-site dental services. But it’s not just the private sector… mobile dental clinics have been protecting the oral health of our nation’s armed forces for decades.
Making it work
Entrepreneur Chris Davenport founded On-site Dental NV in 2000. (On-site Dental NV is a separate company from the similarly-named Onsite Dental, which is based in California.) In Las Vegas, casino employees can head out to the parking lot for a little dental care during their lunch break.
“A fully equipped dental van can cost $450,000,” Davenport told the New York Times in 2006. The previous year, about 1,000 patients a week were being treated in his 2 dental vans (with two offices in each); the total collections that year amounted to $3 million.
Finding profitability through house calls and mobile clinics
Consider Phoenix’s HomeCare Dentists. “Our Dentists specialize in delivering needed dental care to those who have trouble traveling to a dentist,” reads their dental website… “We are happy to serve private residences and assisted living communities.”
They’re not shy about what they’re selling. “We offer a wide range of dental treatment,” reads the site, “including teeth bleaching – dental bridge – bruxism – teeth cleaning – composites – dental crown – debridement – dental implants – dentures – denture care – dry mouth – tooth extraction – gum disease – root canal treatment – tooth bonding – veneers.”
So maybe most people assume tooth whitening isn’t a top concern for most seniors or home-bound people. But why not at least make the offer?
So are the profits there?
Dropping $500,000 on a mobile dental van is no small commitment. While I’m sure there’s money to be made, it seems to me the average dentist could build a brick-and-mortar dental practice from scratch for that price.