Dentists Say the Recession Is Not Over

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Dentists say the recession is not over(October 12, 2010) Only 4% of dentists responding to this survey feel that the recession is over at their dental practices. And only 18% feel things are improving. For the vast majority of dentists, the recession is still going strong.

While the government recently declared the recession to be officially over, many dentists say things have only been getting worse in recent months.

  • 78% said the recession is definitely not over.
  • 18% said it’s not over yet, but things are starting to improve.
  • 4% said the recession is over at their dental practices.

Here are some dentist comments:

Adapting to the new reality

  • “Still doing big cases, but fewer. Feeding the staff too. Going to survive, but it was a rough 2009, and 2010 has not been a lot better. It took a while to adapt.” (General dentist)
  • “It comes in waves of pent-up demand followed by an empty schedule.” (Texas dentist)

Getting worse, not better

  • “Down 40% over last 2 months. Across almost all dental offices we’ve talked to and almost all business.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “It actually seems to be getting worse. I have more empty slots now than I ever have.” (Kansas dentist)
  • “Forty years and worse business than ever. Almost no new patients and lost a dental hygiene day for first time in 38 years.” (California dentist)
  • “It’s actually getting worse lately.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Definitively slowing down since beginning of September.” (Orthodontist)
  • “We are finding that the recession has actually gotten worse.” (Pennsylvania dentist)

Feeling relatively optimistic

  • “We are working harder, but we are up 10% for the year.” (General dentist)
  • "Yes, I feel that the recession is finally over, but I’m not holding my breath that there won’t be a double dip recession on the horizon. We are staying prepared just in case!" (Ohio prosthodontist)

The recession is still going strong

  • “I do not think the recession is over, there is great volatility in the financial markets and more economic crisis to come. The government will have to refinance over 3 trillion of short term debt as well as borrow nearly that much for fiscal expenses in the near future. The erosion of the value of our money will continue. Sound business strategy, cost control, building adequate reserves will be essential for a successful business.” (General dentist)
  • “Not unless you consider down 20% as an economic indicator that the recession is over.” (Florida dentist)
  • “Not even close to over!!” (General dentist)

Unemployment is a disaster

  • "17% unemployment in my county.” (California periodontist)
  • “How can the recession be over when the unemployment rate is at record highs?” (California dentist)
  • “Many patients complain they have no work or very little.” (General dentist)
  • “Our local unemployment rate is 15%. And that’s not the U6 number either!” (Oregon orthodontist)

Slight hints of improvement

  • “While I see some improvement, my schedule is so much lighter than two or three years ago. The majority of my patients choose to do only essential dental work and defer most cosmetic treatment. I see the number of new patients who have new jobs and want to use their dental benefits increasing.” (General dentist)
  • “Overall, people are very cautious, but some are realizing they can’t put things off any longer.” (Minnesota dentist)

Things are bad in some areas

  • “We continue to see continuing declines in Atlanta. Certainly may be over but not improving in any way.” (Georgia dentist)
  • “It seems to just be starting in my community with layoffs of city workers and others. I have plenty of holes in my schedule and have not rehired one employee on the front desk who left. Until now, I had not seen any downturn.” (Washington dentist)

Some are doing quite well

  • “I’m glad we kept our positive attitude, kept marketing, and hiring during 2009, even when it was toughest. Our practice is growing and breaking records every month. Other practices were cutting days and staff. How do you get more patients when you cut days, or staff or chop your marketing? Big mistake! How many patients are you touching right now when you are not working. Do you have a dental website, radio, TV, newsletter, mailer, smile cards, a big sign on your office? Make absolutely sure you have a crack team to answer your phone at all times (lunch, your days off) and can convert calls to appointments.” (General dentist)

People don’t want to spend

  • “Until people feel more secure in their jobs and more secure in the future of the economy, people are going to be cautious about discretionary spending. We haven’t reached that point, at least in my area.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “As long as uncertainty exists, the perception of ‘worry about spending’ exists.” (Louisiana dentist)

Politics & the economy

  • “New patients are down, production is down, case acceptance is down, profits are down. It doesn’t see over to me. Vote ’em all out in November.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “Left wing spin, pre-election spin.” (Minnesota dentist)
  • “Minimum 3 years. Time to get current administration out and new one to ramp up!” (Endodontist)

The government is out of touch

  • “If we listened to everything the Government said we would all be taken for fools! Patients are still very hesitant to spend, but they realize most dentistry cannot be postponed forever. Nor does it get any less expensive. Our practice keeps reinforcing that good dentistry is a GREAT investment in any economy.” (Florida dentist)
  • “The government does not have a clue what is happening to they average guy in the street that we see every day; they just want to make everyone feel better.” (New York dentist)
  • “You cannot believe anything the government says.” (California dentist)

"Show Me the Money"

  • “Let’s pray that it actually is… but… ‘Show Me the Money!!’ Or give me a bailout…I’m too big to fail… :-)” (General dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 134 respondents. Posted 10/12/2010

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