The dental industry experiences many changes year over year, and many of these changes can have a great impact on our dental health. With new technology, changing communication standards and more, dental practices must learn to adapt.
We interviewed two dentists (Dr. Howard M. Steinberg, DMD, MDS, in Tuscon, AZ, and Dr. Thomas R. Tippins, DDS, at Urbandale Family Dentistry) about what changes we can expect to see in dentistry in 2017. Below, you’ll discover what they anticipate for the year ahead, as well as understand some of the more common changes that occur year over year.
Dental Office Changes
Running a dental practice takes time and money. There is more to it than you might think; just take a look at the job requirements of a dental office administrator and you’ll see one small part of what is needed–and it’s not all that small. Some of the responsibilities of running a dental practice include: work efficiency and managing overhead, administrative tasks, communicating with patients, choosing and changing office decor and the actual dental work itself.
Here are some of the areas you might see change over the course of the year at your dentist’s office.
Dental Practice Efficiency
One of the number one reasons people skip their annual dental visits is the cost. Dental care is expensive. The cost of dental work is not just for the procedure itself but also the cost of the equipment, salaries and other dental materials needed to run that office.
To reduce the cost of dental care for their patients, dentists need to manage their practice’s overhead well. Doing so allows them to continue to make a profit while also keeping costs low for their patients.
As you go to the dentist this year, you may notice administrative changes in how the practice is run as your dentist works to reduce his practice’s overhead costs.
Traditionally, dentists mailed patients a postcard with a reminder of their upcoming appointment, and many still do that today. Then, they advanced to using telephones to call their patients. Now, many dentists are using text messaging when it makes sense.
Even though text messaging has been around for a while, dentists are now becoming more confident about using it with their patients, especially now that their patient demographic is shifting to a younger generation: millennials. Millennials are entering dental practices as adults now, so communication standards may begin to cater to them.
When patients go to the dentist, especially a dentist they’re visiting for the first time, one of the criteria they look for is a clean, up-to-date and comfortable dental office.
Sometimes dental office changes include making the space seem more put together or staying up-to-date with new technology and equipment; other times, changes could mean lowering their patients’ dental anxiety with soothing colors in the decor, comfortable furniture and distractions (i.e. entertainment).
Dental Digital Marketing
When you searched for a dentist, did you look up reviews about them online? Did you look at their website to see hours or pricing?
In a digital world, dental offices need to keep up with digital marketing strategies for their dental practice. If they don’t, they can easily get passed over for another office that is on top of their game. When you add this to a dentist’s long list of tasks, managing a dental digital marketing strategy can seem overwhelming, but it’s now vital to the success of this business.
Technology changes year over year, and sometimes at a rapid pace. It’s amazing to look at how far we’ve come in 10 years. The advancements in computer technology and digital recordkeeping have been significant. And what about 3D printing? While this technology has been around since the 1980s, in the past 10 years it has started gaining momentum in dentistry.
Dental Procedure Changes
Thanks to new technology, as mentioned above, dental procedures are becoming more efficient, effective and less painful. Below are some predictions about dental procedure changes happening this year, or in the near future.
Some of these technologies may have already been adapted into your dentist’s practice. Often, the cost of acquiring new dental technology takes time to gather together.
Ordinarily, crowns are made at a dental lab. An impression of the tooth is taken at the dental office and that impression is sent off to a lab where the crown is made and sent back. This costs additional time and money for the patient and the dental office.
Now, many dentists are able to make crowns and do the restorations themselves at their office using 3-dimensional video scans. We may continue to see further spread of this at dental offices this year.
Dental Implant Coating
Dental implant coatings are being developed. This new procedure adds a protective coating around a dental implant after implantation that will protect it against infection, which is the number one reason why implants fail.
Cavity-Fighting Gel for Kids
In the latter half of last year, it was announced that a cavity-fighting gel for kids had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This gel can be brushed onto kids’ teeth painlessly and help protect their teeth against cavities.
Treating Dental Anxieties
- Puppy pals in the office
- New techniques for treatment, like acupuncture
- The creation of dental spas
- Open communication about dental fear and anxiety between dentists and patients.
The Cost of Dental Care
Finally, we predict an increase of in-house dental plans this year. These plans are similar to 1Dental’s discount dental plan in that you purchase a plan and are provided with discounted rates on your dental procedures and visits. Dentists have seen the need for affordable dental coverage for their patients. Some dental offices are already meeting the needs of their patients by developing a dental plan of their own that can help their patients afford the care they need.
What changes are you looking forward to in the dental industry this year? Anything that we didn’t list here? Share them with us in the comment section below!