Dentists Unclear on the Future of Dentistry

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The Future of Dentistry Is Unclear to Many DentistsDentists aren’t sure what to expect from the future of dentistry. In this survey, doctors were fairly evenly distributed between optimism, pessimism, and uncertainty.

Dentists’ fears for the future include government intrusion, corporate or insurance control, the effects of the Obama health plan, and the rise in
mid-level providers.

Here’s how dentists responded:

  • 37% are optimistic about the future of dentistry.
  • Another 37% are uncertain.
  • The remaining 25% are pessimistic.

We asked dentists, "What do you expect for the future of dentistry? What worries you? What are you enthusiastic about?"

Serious fears

  • “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)

Things can’t be that bad

  • “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. Banks and finance companies will need to loan money to stay in business, and that will help stimulate the economy. On the downside, the down economy will help the insurance companies get a stronger grip on managed care which is not good for the profitability of the practice. With the debt that the government has accrued, we may never be able to recover as a nation.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • “No matter the technology, there will always be need for dentistry. Research keeps showing connections of oral health to overall health and this will continue to grow in importance.” (Texas dentist)

New materials and technologies

  • “I think the future will hold no impression materials – mostly all cad/cam. I’m worried about insurance companies selling useless dental coverage and not telling patients. Dentists should stand their ground and not give in to them.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Shift to biocompatible non metal restorations made chairside with cad/cam. Ozone therapies for decontamination apps.” (California dentist)

Unhappy about mid-level providers

  • “Continued intrusion by the government into dentistry trying to drive down the cost of services, chiefly through midlevel providers. Enthusiastic about the technology, although it is a double edged sword, technology drives up the cost of care–look at medicine.” (New York 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)
  • "As long as folks have teeth and gums and enjoy eating and good appearance, there will be a need for good dentists. I have concerns that government will force mid-level providers on us that are not well trained and will give dentistry a ‘black eye’. I feel that the aging population has a great need for all forms of dental care that optimizes their overall health and well being.” (Oral surgeon)

Beware corporate overlords

  • “Worried about corporate takeover of delivery.” (California orthodontist)
  • “Government takeover and control. I understand Bank of America tabbed dentistry as one of the best, most profitable small businesses in the last 5 years. My thoughts, no insurance and no government control. I am fearful the secret will get out and insurance and government will come after us.” (Georgia dentist)

Maintaining quality of care

  • “Patients are looking for cheap. I see Dentistry that I would never admit to being mine coming in from other offices. It's all crap. Monochromatic crowns that DO look like Chicklets are acceptable, I guess. The younger docs may know all about computerized-stuff and lasers, but wouldn't know an overhanging margin if it bit 'em in the butt.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “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 .This is mainly the fault of dental schools. I know, because I'm a young dentist, but I furthered my education in a great prosthodontic program.” (Ohio prosthodontist)

Controlled by
dental insurance

  • “Unless we can control costs and managed care, we're in trouble!” (Massachusetts periodontist)
  • “Insurance reimbursements have not kept pace with dental procedural costs and overhead, and I now make less money working much harder than I did 5 years ago. I worry that this will only get worse with the push for Universal Healthcare.” (California dentist)
  • “Too much managed care. Too many dentists."
  • “More insurance or government control, less treatment being done by patients especially elective treatment.” (California dentist)

Lack of enthusiasm about Obama and his health care plan

  • “Great advances, but I worry about Obama and his legion of looters. Looking forward to his political demise and the rise of the self-supporting class!” (Mississippi 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)
  • “Unfortunately, I don’t expect much if Obamacare is enacted as proposed in 2014. All of it worries me, especially since I was exposed to the wonderful world of welfare dentistry when I was a young dental school graduate. The scars are still there after 28 years of practice. I’m enthusiastic about Institutional Dentistry, State or Federal. It's the only place that has consistent, reliable income over the years. Even if you become disabled or killed, it will still provide for your loved ones.” (California dentist)

Beware the entitled

  • "Patients are more and more entitlement-oriented.” (Wisconsin dentist)
  • “I expect people to target their dental care ‘entitlement’ desires to congress as the Health Care Plan kicks in. Then all dentists may eventually be required to participate in order to maintain licensure. When we have to discount our services 30-80% across the board, the good game will be over.” (Maryland dentist)

Not eager for government involvement

  • “Government control is a bad thing for all.” (Georgia dentist)
  • “Government control concerns me.” (Florida dentist)
  • “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.” (California dentist)
  • “I fear federal control of dental treatments like medicine, insurance companies getting stronger, more federal rules and regulations.” (General dentist)

 

Note: Survey sample included 75 respondents. Posted 8/03/2010

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