Dentistry, Supply, and Demand for Dentist

Written by: Trent Hughes, Director of Recruiting

Dentistry in the US has not been restricted to solo clinics of dentists as once it did. However, the dentistry practice has been changed with the help of dental service organizations, and growth patterns have been observed in them in almost every state of the US.

Three states – Nevada, Arizona, and Texas, embraced this model. Group practice of dentistry is building momentum in US, thus creating more opportunities for dentists to join without investing heavily for solo clinics to get started. The expansion of the worldwide dental market can be attributed to the increase in the elderly population at a global level and growing consumer awareness about their oral healthcare needs.

The dental implants market is expected to have the fastest market growth among the product segments. The size of the global dental market was USD 29200 million, and by the end of 2026, it is projected to touch USD 43240 million, with a CAGR of 5.7% during 2021-2026.

No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial adverse effect on high-contact industries, together with dentistry. As a result of the pandemic, dental care spending took an enormous dive. In the same spirit, it was projected by the Health Policy Institute that in 2021, dental spending would be $123.9 billion, which is just 80% before pandemic level.

The dental economy approached a virtual halt in March and April 2020, accompanied by a number of additional health care areas. The dental economy was affected in deep ways by the initial proactive response during this period by the dental community in supporting to flatten the curve and maintain personal protective equipment (PPE).

Moreover, the employment growth in dentistry is the steadiest as compared to any other health care sector, with 90 percent of dental practices re-opened. One must know 244,000 of those jobs originated from dental offices of the 312,000 health care jobs that have been recuperated in May 2020.

It is a known fact that the dental clinics, optometry offices, general practice physician offices, and non-healthcare sectors such as hotels and restaurants were shut down on account of strict social distancing guidelines enforced by various states. Initial estimates from the St. Louis Federal Reserve suggested that the demand will decline by 51 percent in high-contact industries, and gross output will decrease by 47 percent.

Guidance was issued by the American Dental Association (ADA) on March 16, 2020, that dental practices delay elective procedures, and emergency or urgent care must be provided. The main objective was the safety of dentists and patients from the harmful health effects of COVID-19 and to support PPE. On April 1, 2020, these guidelines were extended to April 30 by the ADA.
The procedures suggested by the ADA for dentists to postpone consisted of oral examinations, radiographs, routine cleaning, and preventive therapies, aesthetic dental procedures, and orthodontic procedures not involving pain management. In urgent dental care, we consider extensive dental caries, including uncontrolled oral bleeding, facial trauma, dental trauma, pain, biopsies of abnormal tissues, and tooth fractures.

A significant rebound has been experienced by the dental economy since HPI’s earlier dental spending projection in April 2020. In addition to that, 27 states allowed dental offices to remain open for elective care by May 4, 2020. After that, 48 states, including the District of Columbia, opened for elective dental care as of June 1, 2020. Consequently, employment has recovered at dental offices.

In reality, the rate of re-employment in the dental sector overtakes other health care segments. It was reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that at dental offices, employment was at 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels as of May 2020. More to the point, 90 percent of practices had re-opened by the week of June 1.

There were 201,117 U.S dentists working in dentistry as of 2020 (dentists who use their dental degree in any manner). Among those 201,117, 34.5% were female dentists working in dentistry as of 2020. Around one in five dentists (21.2%) who are professionally active reported that their practice, administration area, or research is specialty recognized by the ADA.

Among US dentists, the average age of retirement age was 68.2, which is very close to the 68.1 in 2010, even though back in 2001, the average retirement age was around 65. Currently, the average dentist retires just before they reach the age of 69, according to the findings of the ADA Health Policy Institute.

Presently, there is a shortage of 10,877 dentists in the United States, according to estimates from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). In recent years, a number of dental schools that have opened mention inadequate dentist supply as a main motive of why there is a need for more dental school graduates. On the other hand, it is suggested by the evidence of a recent analysis that by 2040, there will be a surplus of dentists.

Generally, it is estimated that the employment of dentists from 2019 to 2029 will grow 3 percent, almost as fast as the average for every occupation. Moreover, with the increase of the aging population and research continuing to associate oral health with overall health, the demand for dental services will surely increase. No doubt that in 2020, the disturbing economic collapse led to a lot of dental practices decreasing services or shutting their doors for weeks and months.

During the pandemic, several key strategies to succeed were strategically implemented by Dental Service Organizations (DSO’s), including teledentistry, internal compliance, staffing, and staff support systems, national problem solving, team and patient communication, PPE, and strategic alliances. Now, in view of that, it can be rationally expected that DSO-supported dental practices will result in the recovery process as it implemented the above-mentioned strategies with an effective approach.

There has been an increasing demand for cosmetic dentistry. The factors that are stimulating the dental consumables market comprise fluctuating trends among patient likings and the rising demand for cosmetic dentistry. The augmented demand for cosmetic procedures has affected the dental practicing and dental consumables market. Besides, over the past five years, we can observe a substantial investment in cosmetic dentistry.

Most procedures have experienced remarkable growth of 200% according to a research survey. The main components for growth in cosmetic dentistry are dental crowns and bridges. Most of the population going through cosmetic dentistry is women. The millennials and baby boomers have mainly sped up the demand growth, and millennials represent an upward share of this revenue. It is anticipated to fast-track the percentage of revenue, continuing to rise over the approaching years due to being a huge portion of the US population. Millennials have exceeded the baby boomers. The additional factors driving the market include global economic growth, growing access to dental facilities, and a rise in the aging population.

Another important aspect in the field of dentistry is very low dental insurance coverage as compared to general health insurance. One of the key factors resulting in such a minor number of dental insurance coverage is carelessness toward dental care. Likewise, according to report studies, 50% of US citizens don’t have dental insurance, and almost 77% who have dental insurance postpone their dental care.

Now, one can see from this that a huge number of the population remains oblivious toward dental care, and it is not one of their main priorities. Many people do not have insurance coverage caused by this element and must spend from their own pocket. In due course, this confines the dental consumables market.

The dental industry is observing a prompt implementation of new technologies to adjust to reduced costs and ever-changing patient requirements. The dentists are investing in 3D printing, and from 2020 to 2027, the international 3D printing market is likely to increase at a rate of 14%. In dental practices, there will be more access to 3D printed materials at lesser costs as these technologies become a part of the mainstream.

For dental applications, about 9,500 3D printers are ready to be shipped this year, according to SmarTech publishing. It is stated by the Journal of the American Dental Association that “the low cost and simple workflow of additive 3D printing has potential to improve precision and efficiency in clinical dentistry for both academic and private practices.” To accomplish different applications, dental practices once required to contract a third party.

In the present day, a lot of practices can handle their 3D printing requirements internally or by means of cost-effective possibilities. Dental products include dental models, dentures, surgical guides, clear teeth aligners, and dental crown substructures. 3D printing was referred as a “paradigm shift” in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics for the field because it is a digital workflow that has increased efficiency level for offices and is more comfortable for patients. In the same way, the clear aligners market is projected to increase 23.1%, and corporations such as Candid®, Invisalign®, and SmileDirectClub™ are making use of the 3D printing technology.

From the current and future perspective, digital marketing is going to be a huge and significant component of dental practices. In a conventional context, the dental practices have been small operations that don’t have a large budget for digital marketing. However, for many dental practices, the pandemic called attention to the inclusion of online advertising.

It was believed by 38% of dental practitioners in a survey performed in January of 2021 that increased marketing would make their practice more useful and profitable. In 2021, digital ad spending is expected to touch $389 billion across all industries, which signifies a growth of 17%. By the same token, it was found in a survey of dental patients that one in three would not go without Facebook marketing. It was also discovered that 58% of patients have a preference for seeing video content from dental practices.

There is no doubt that social media has turned out to be a widespread and low-cost channel to support dental practices. There is an interesting fact that for marketing purposes, only 86.2% of companies used social media in 2013. Now, if we look at these entities, 91.9% of businesses are anticipated to use social media in 2021. PatientPop, which is a healthcare marketing platform, discovered that those providers who don’t give attention to online repute are 52% less expected to report having a promising income.

Furthermore, for laser dentistry, there is a growing demand. From 2020 to 2024, the market for dental lasers is projected to grow 11%. By their proposed use on either hard or soft tissues, the dental lasers are categorized. There is a variety of dental care applications in laser technology, and in certain cases, it can even substitute the requirement for a customary dental drill. It implies that we can use them to repair fillings, eliminate or reshape tissue, accelerate whitening procedures, and remove cavities.

Certainly, there are lots of possible benefits of medical lasers. According to different studies, pain can be lessened from lasers, and it can speed post-op healing while decreasing bleeding. Moreover, a 100% reduction in long-term bacteria was shown in one study due to diode lasers. Whereas only 58.4% of those cured with the normal hydrogen peroxide revealed improvement.
Another important trend is that teledentistry became normal. In the first week of the pandemic, telehealth visits increased 154%, according to the CDC. During the year, they continued higher, where approximately a third of all healthcare appointments were performed virtually.

Tele-dentistry is not limited to only act as a substitute for in-person care as it can enhance healthcare by increasing regularity and better access. For the 20% of Americans who are in rural areas, teledentistry can make it easier for them to obtain care as they don’t have easy access to dentists and medical services. Also, teledentistry has been proven to be effective in the same way as early in-person consultations at spotting cavities and evaluating treatment plans.

In addition to that, dentists are moving toward subscription-based treatment. Because of cost issues, 59% of adults have reported avoiding the dentist. Now, this is comparatively because almost 23% of individuals in the US do not have dental coverage. Besides, occasionally it can be problematic for those with coverage to find a practice that is covered by their specific insurance plan.

Even then, dental costs can be unpredictable for both the insured and uninsured. Likewise, 72% name decreasing insurance reimbursement charges for dental practices themselves as their most important concern.

In this regard, an effective solution for both patients and dentists is dental subscription services. An annualized or monthly rate is offered by these services, covering x-rays, regular cleanings, and even fillings or other surgery. These services can act as a low-cost solution for patients while assuring more income for dental practices as well.

It has been revealed by different studies that almost 83% of consumers are expected to stick around a dental practice with an internal dental membership plan. It has been observed that there will be a huge demand for dentists in the US by 2040. Dentists and their services will be in high demand for another few decades.

As the awareness increases for staying healthy and keeping yourself properly hygienic, people have started looking for permanent family dentists as they consider their family physicians. So, such subscriptions with proper competent services to patients will make a lifetime binding of customers and their families to dental service organizations.

*Invisalign®, the Invisalign logo, and iTero®, among others, are trademarks and/ or service marks of Align Technology, Inc. or one of its subsidiaries or affiliated companies and may be registered in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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