Dentists’ Future Not Clear: Will It Be Good or Bad?

The Future of Dentistry Is Unclear to Many DentistsDentists aren’t sure whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the dental profession. In this survey, 37% of dentists said they are optimistic about the future of dentistry, another 37% are uncertain, and the remaining 25% are pessimistic.

When it comes to dentists’ future, some of the things that worry doctors include government control, corporate takeover, insurance intrusion, Obama’s health plan, and mid-level dental providers.

“I worry that the government will get its hands on dentistry just like it’s doing to medicine and we will all wind-up working for Uncle Sam,” said one dentist.

Here are some comments we got when we asked dentists, “What do you expect for the future of dentistry? What worries you? What are you enthusiastic about?”

  • “From an economic standpoint, people that have been delaying treatment will have to do their treatment as they won’t be able to delay forever.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • “Higher overhead due to increased bureaucracy from government. Lower income due to the endless Great Recession. The ‘golden days’ may be over.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “My worries include the greed of dentists to make the most money and not treat the profession with respect.” (General dentist)
  • “I think the future will hold no impression materials – mostly all cad/cam.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “I am concerned that the standard of care in the US for dentistry may be lowered due to the influx of mid level providers. We must not lower our excellent quality of care in this country because of the misconception that there are not enough Dentists to provide care. The problem is distribution of Dentists and lack of funding for Dental Care increasing the number of poorly trained mid level providers will not solve this problem.” (Alabama dentist)
  • “Worried about corporate takeover of delivery.” (California orthodontist)
  • “I’m worried about the oversaturation of dentists in many urban and suburban areas. Also the lack of expertise and knowledge about dentures and dental implant supported dentures by many of today’s young dentists.” (Ohio prosthodontist)
  • “I am concerned about the effect that ‘Obamacare’ will have on our private practices because having an administration that is so anti-small business does not bode well for private practices.” (Alabama dentist)

Read more: The Future of Dentistry: What’s In Store for the Dentist

The Dental Future May Not Be Rosy (Survey Video)

Dental future: dentist survey videoWhat does the dental future hold?

No one can say for certain, of course. However, dentists are not terribly optimistic about the future of the dental profession.

When we asked about their feelings on the future of dentistry, only 22% said it looked bright. Another 35% are uncertain, while a full 43% of dentists are pessimistic about the future of dentistry.

One dentist said, “I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I do know that I wouldn’t encourage my children to follow in my footsteps.”

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss what dentists think about the dental future:

“I am especially concerned about the future for my specialty,” said an orthodontist. “There are just too many orthodontists, and with pedodontists and general dentists doing more and more orthodontics, the competition for patients is fierce.”

“I have been in practice over 36 years and see a drastic decline in decay and periodontal disease,” observed one dentist. “I really don’t know what dentists will do in the future.”

“Unfortunately, too many dentists are more concerned about the bottom line rather than helping patients solve their dental problems,” complained a dental implant dentist.

Looking into your crystal ball, do you have any further thoughts on what the dental future might hold?

Dentists Are Pessimistic About the Future of Dentistry

Dentists Are Pessimistic Dentists are pessimistic about the future of dentistry and are less likely to recommend dentistry to their children as a profession, a The Wealthy Dentist survey showed.

A North Carolina dentist responded, “I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I do know that I wouldn’t encourage my children to follow in my footsteps.”

In this survey, dentists were asked what their feelings are about the future of dentistry. 43% were pessimistic about the future of dentistry, 35% were uncertain, while only 22% were optimistic.

Dentists Are Pessimistic About the Future of Dentistry Graph

Dentists’ fears for the future include the Affordable Health Care Act, lack of superior training, the lack of dental insurance for many people, and the rise in mid-level dental providers.

Here are some comments we got when we asked dentists about the future of dentistry —

“Economics and lack of superior training and perfection will slow, even stop the growth of high quality dentistry.” (Georgia dentist)

“The trend is for two types of dentistry: high-end for the upper class with low-end for everyone else, and people don’t want to pay for either!” (General dentist)

“Having practiced for 31 years, I was concerned that corporate dentistry was the wave of the future. The low-balling to get them in and then presenting the billion dollar treatment plan. However, after receiving a steady stream of patients from these practices that seemed to do a wallet diagnoses first, I have found that there IS a place for conservative, basic, bread-and-butter dentistry. Where the impetus is to actually care for the patient, educate them as to the minor miracles we can perform, and let them have a strong say in the decisions that affect their dental health. These clients know when they are getting over-treated and I suspect I can continue my practice — free of insurance company contracts, until I decide that these hands are getting too stiff or shaky to function at optimum levels. Genuine concern. Isn’t this one of the reasons most of us chose this arena?” (South Carolina dentist)

“I have been in practice over 36 years and I see a drastic decline in decay and perio disease. The amount of endo has also declined substantially. I really don’t know what general dentists will do in the future.” (New York dentist)

“Government intrusion and the increasing role of ‘Dental insurance’ makes the future of the private practioner very uncertain. Particularly troubling is the increasing trend of “mid-level” providers which threaten to return our profession into a ‘trade’.” (General dentist)

“Unfortunately, too many dentists are more concerned about the bottom line rather than helping patient’s solve their dental problems. No one can think out of the box any more. It seem that they want computerization to over come their lack of clinical ability!” (South Carolina periodontist)

“As I read the assorted tidbits of information concerning the slowly-released Affordable Health Care Act rules and regs concerning dentistry for children, I can easily see ALL children having dental coverage within the next two years. Great! Then I read how the payments will be covered, and begin to realize that with the mandated loss of insurance company annual maximum benefit limits, insurance companies will quickly end dental plans for kids, and ALL of these children will have mandated coverage through the state exchange programs… which are to pay providers at medicaid rates (65% UCR in North Carolina). So we private practitioners will have lots of kids that have coverage, and lots of business, but at reimbursement rates below our overhead, which is why I currently limit my medicaid services, and why so many dental practitioners just do not see medicaid patients. In the next twenty years, we will have condtioned an entire new generation into “free” dentistry, which will HAVE to be provided at taxpayer subsidized government facilities by government providers, simply because private practice can’t financially survive providing top of the line services at bottom line prices.” (General dentist)

“As an orthodontist, I am especially concerned about the future for my specialty. There are just too many orthoontists, and with pedodontists and general dentists doing more and more orthodontics, the competition for patients is fierce. I am glad I am not just coming out of training now.” (Wisconsin orthodontist)

“When I went to dental school there were no classes regarding the ‘business of dentistry’. And when I graduated there were few if any CE courses on the subject. Today we are overwhelmed with mailings promotung this to the point of confusion. My interactions with young dentists leads me to believe that young dentists are more interested in $ than in the altruism of being a dental professional.” (Rhode Island dentist)

“I think dentistry has been insulated somewhat from the U.S. recession.” (Oklahoma dentist)

“The government and the ADA aren’t helping me at all but we are having the best year ever despite them!” (California dentist)

What are your thoughts on the future of dentistry? Do you think the Affordable Car Act will help or hurt dentistry?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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