Dental Production Drops for 1 in 2 Dentists

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Dental production has decreased for half of dentistsHalf of dentists (51%) say their production has decreased since the same time last year – by an average of almost 20%, this survey found. Another 18% of respondents said there had been no change.

On the other hand, 31% reported production had increased by an average of 14%.

Here’s what dentists have to say about how dental production has changed in recent years:

Good dental management can increase profitability

  • “We decreased overhead and thereby increased profit by $37,000. I can't believe I didn't do this before. This was due to reading suggestions from you [Jim Du Molin] and Sally McKemzie and implementing them. Thanks to both of you."

Dental patient marketing is key

  • “I am using the E4D Dentist CAD/CAM system and have controlled lab expenses as well as attracted new patients. I have found people are both amazed yet somewhat expect dentistry to keep up with technology. They respond well to the concept of same-day dentistry. I love it and they love it, so it is truly a win/win on both sides.” (General dentist)

Things are tough out there

  • “It is terrible! Decreased staff, decreased production and supplies.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “I am seeing half the new patients as '08. It does not seem to matter how much I market. People are being very careful with their money.” (Texas dentist)
  • “People are watching their dollars much closer today. Everyone is nervous about what will happen in the future both politically and economically. I think they have a right to be nervous. I know I am!!” (Louisiana dentist)

Feeling optimistic

  • “I feel slightly more optimistic about this year. Have some improved team members and fewer PPO plans that require fee schedules and write-offs. I've implemented some newer skills, cosmetic, dental implants. I have a consulting firm I have been working with for about 8 months.” (General dentist)
  • "More patients. The office is maturing." (General dentist)
  • “It will slowly rise this year after 5 years of decreasing."
  • “Things seem to be getting better.” (New York dentist)

People aren’t buying elective treatments

  • “Not going to get much better. Everything in dentistry is elective, excluding extractions, so we have to wait for the economy to get better. Looks like it’s got a long way to go.” (Indiana dentist)
  • “People are cautious about spending money and incurring debt. The ones without jobs and in financial trouble are certainly not doing much spending, even the ones still employed have cut down spending and are trying to pay off debt. This makes it difficult to schedule elective dental procedures. Most patients are still taking care of cavities, and probably a few crowns have resulted from increased bruxing due to stress.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “I do feel there is a feeling of uncertainty out there. My increase may be due to a new office/building in a new location. My patients are only
    completing the dentistry they need to complete and not doing much cosmetic work.” (Wisconsin dentist)

Finally, cosmetic dentistry

  • “More patients are doing larger treatment plans and are considering cosmetic dentistry and elective plans as opposed to need-based dentistry only.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • “Patients will start coming back. They need to be nurtured towards the more expensive treatments."

People are doing a little better

  • “We live in a modest affordable town/small city. We have a lot of people moving here and a lot of commercial projects moving in. I think there has been a shift to affordable lifestyle living, and dentistry doesn't seem like a hard stretch for people here."
  • “We are working a lot harder and not wasting so much time. Here in rural USA, things are still going well, and I feel they will stay so.” (General dentist)
  • “Economists in Ohio all seem to agree that this year the economy in Ohio and nationally will remain steady. Next year will see slight improvement, and over the next several years there will probably be slow incremental improvements.” (Ohio prosthodontist)

Ups and downs

  • “Collections show a slight decrease first 2 months, but picked up 3rd month first quarter."
  • “29% down through February, but March is up 10 % over last year’s March. I believe things are headed up.” (Kentucky dentist)
  • "Production is gonna go down. More competitors are coming.” (California oral surgeon)
  • “Inflation is going to happen." (Texas dentist)
  • “Hygiene is WAY down, but the doctor's production is good and actually may be up a little.” (Maine dentist)

Hands are tied by dental insurance

  • “We’re seeing more HMO type plans and reduced fees in PPO plans. Insurance is too much in control, and I think that it will only get worse.” (Missouri dentist)
  • “Not only is production down, but I have had to sign up with many PPO's just to keep patients in the chair. And then it becomes not a question of production, but collections, considering an average 30% write-off on those patients.” (Ohio dentist)

Dental financing
is hard to come by

  • “Not as many clients scheduling are for their work. The primary reason is lack of funds. We have tried to approve them via dental credit cards Citi Health Card or Care Credit, and most have not been able qualify.” (California dentist)

The terrifying specter of a national health plan

  • “No one really knows now that Obamacare is looming on the horizon!” (Alabama dentist)
  • “More patients want to postpone radiographs. More patients are changing and/or losing dental insurance coverage. Those with dental insurance more carefully plan out ‘covered treatment.’ If, or more likely ‘When’ dental care is covered under the new Obama HC plan, dental practice prosperity will end.” (General dentist)
  • “2009 was a kick in the gut to my practice. Collection was down 25% over 2008. This year January and February were up 25 % again, but March was slow, so we lost of some the gain. That's how I see this year going… up and down ,with it ending up not as bad as last year but not as good as 2006-2008. I think that people are simply shell-shocked by Obama and what he is doing to our country. He touts his policies as stimulative for the economy but everyone knows he is just robbing us all to give it to entitlements. That is no incentive to work harder or even try, so this country is in a funk…and it will be until he is OUT!” (South Carolina dentist)

Good luck getting credit – they’ll reduce your credit line just for asking

  • “My accountant gave me the heads up about the economy and my business about one year ago. Since then I have reorganized expenses, took a cut in pay and scaled back where ever I could. I am not behind on anything, but need capital to infuse into the business during lean months. The beginning of 2010 was down in production and collections, so I approached a lender that I had a credit line with, to get an increase in the credit line. Not only was that request denied, but they reduced my current credit line. I am in one of the hardest hit areas of the country in terms of housing and foreclosures (AZ). Many people are walking away from their obligations. It has not hit the commercial end, but that is next. If the economy doesn't show signs of turning around soon, many small businesses will fold. It's scary.” (General dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 83 respondents. Posted 4/13/2010

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