Dental Industry Trends and What They Mean for Your Practice

Dental Industry Trends and What They Mean for Your Practice

The focus of your work as a dentist should, first and foremost, be the wellness of your patients. But as you work to improve their oral health, dental industry trends can be a great partner.

New technologies can make procedures more effective. They can also open opportunities for entirely new ones. Innovative techniques and technologies could improve the patient experience. For these reasons and more, paying attention to the latest trends driving the dental profession is meaningful for your practice. Here are a few recent dental industry trends to keep in mind.

Cosmetic Procedures Grow in Demand

According to Dental Economics, “By some estimates, the dollars spent on cosmetic dentistry have more than doubled in the past five years. That’s pretty significant.” We trend to agree.

The growth of demand for cosmetic procedures could be due to a culture increasingly focused on the perception of agelessness. Or maybe people are placing more value on their well-being over things like cars and designer goods. Regardless of the reason, this increase in cosmetic procedures is significant among dental industry trends.

What does this mean for your practice?

If you offer cosmetic procedures already, it might be time to allocate more of your marketing efforts and budget on that menu of services. Make these procedures a selling point for your dental membership plan. Share blogs, newsletters, and social media content on topics related to cosmetic dentistry.

Older Demographics Are Spending

Elder generations haven’t historically been a primary focus for dentists. This demographic may sometimes need costly restorative procedures. But many of these patients also forgo regular care because Medicare plans don’t cover dental procedures. Still, consider this recent research finding: “The dental implant market is $3.6 billion and is expected to grow 11% annually.”

Just because the baby boomer generation is aging doesn’t mean they don’t also desire to look their best for as long as possible. This demographic also values their quality of life. The retirement you worked so hard for isn’t much fun if you can barely eat without pain or discomfort. There may be seniors who can’t afford implants, but many others can. They are prioritizing these procedures, as the above statistic supports.

An article by Today provides a plethora of insights on seniors’ perspective on implants. Namely, it notes why this demographic considers implants to be better than dentures. The piece quotes Dr. Wong Keng Mun, managing director of T32 Dental Group. He notes that, “With dentures, patients may get just 20% to 30% of their original chewing function and this affects their diet. For example, if they eat vegetables, they may eat only the leaves and not the stem.”

Of course, the cosmetic value is still an important factor. Implants provide the most freedom to adjust one’s smile. And even if one tooth needs replacing, implants look more consistent.

What does this mean for your practice?

As you consider the ways you can incorporate cosmetic procedures into your marketing and membership plans, also keep in mind the demographics influencing dental industry trends. You certainly want to consider your local population in general. But don’t be afraid to appeal to seniors’ concerns in your advertising too.

3D Printing is Hot

While we’re on the subject of dentures vs. implants and dental industry trends, let’s discuss 3D printing. Yes, implants provide a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing option for those who need major restoration. However, 3D printing is making the use of dentures better for everyone.

3D printing offers a quicker and cheaper way to produce dentures. This technology also has the potential to provide a more accurate, customizable fit for dental prosthetics. Now that’s a win-win compromise for a patient who can’t afford implants.

But here’s the kicker for dentists. The materials used in the 3D printing process aren’t quite as durable, which means those patients will need to replace their 3D-printed dentures more often than traditional dentures. This brings patients back to your office more frequently. And those more frequent visits might also lead to more regular cleanings as well as other restorations down the road.

What does this mean for your practice?

You’ll still want to encourage implants as the choice to make for patients who need a total overhaul. However, if a patient can’t afford dental implants, dentures might be the only real solution. And now, dentures can be more lucrative for your practice, and cheaper upfront for your patient. By investing in 3D printing technologies now, you may find dentures to be a more profitable service for your practice.

Reputation Matters

The world seems increasingly complex in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. People feel an intense need to trust their medical and dental professionals. No longer is it satisfactory for them to drop in at the practice they saw while out shopping the other day. Your new patients have likely asked around on community Facebook groups. They have asked for recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors. Reading online reviews before calling to make an appointment is standard.

Building a trustworthy persona within the community and online will be increasingly important.

What does this mean for your practice?

First, your digital presence matters. Invest in crafting a strong website. Publish blog posts that position you as a knowledgeable and empathic expert in oral care. Connect with your patients on social media. Also pay attention to online reviews. While generally unavoidable, there are steps you can take to help your practice build a database of positive reviews and make sure potential patients see them when they Google dental practices in your area.

Customer Service and Convenience Are King

As a dentist, you are focused on improving oral health. The idea that you have to accommodate a patient's schedules and whims can be frustrating. But dentistry is still a business. And the pace of our modern-day lifestyles makes it nearly impossible for patients to manage appointments of any kind without some flexibility.

When you make processes simpler and speedier for your patients, they’re often better for your practice, too. You will likely experience fewer cancellations, more timely payments, and a greater number of positive reviews.

What does this mean for your practice?

Pay attention to pain points for your patients. If you aren’t sure what they are, ask your front office team members. Here are a few other common customer service improvements you can put into practice.

  • Allow appointment booking online, via your website.
  • Send text message appointment reminders and confirmations.
  • Email tips on oral care.
  • Allow patients to pay online via a mobile app or your website.
  • Create a dental membership plan that allows them to pay via a subscription and skip the checkout desk.

While not the only dental industry trends out there, these five insights will prove key to making your practice successful.

  • Cosmetic Procedures Grow in Demand
  • Older Demographics Are Spending
  • 3D Printing is Hot
  • Reputation Matters
  • Customer Service and Convenience Are King

Keep these dental industry trends in mind, and think about the ways they can positively impact your practice. While dentistry is a time-honored profession, it can also be trendy!

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