Enduring a turbulent two years since the onset of the pandemic, businesses in practically every industry have been faced with new and unforeseen challenges, forcing adaptations at every level. Dentistry is no exception – dentists continue to grapple with a combination of issues they couldn’t possibly have predicted in addition to the normal difficulties of maintaining a competitive dental practice. Chief among these issues are patient retention, staffing, and technological/procedural shifts.
Of course, the lifeline of a dental practice is its patients. In its wake, the pandemic left behind several problems relating to patient retention for dentists to deal with. Loss of life because of COVID-19 or other related causes (such as overloaded hospitals), patient hesitation to schedule appointments due to health concerns, and loss of sponsored dental benefits packages due to the Great Resignation are all examples of retention issues facing today’s dental practices. As of late 2021, nearly 40% of all dental practices opened with much lower patient volumes than normal.
Not only have dentists faced retention issues with their patients, but also with their staff, adding another layer of complication to an already daunting issue. Lack of patients led to a decrease in income, meaning that many dentists were not and are still not able to adequately pay dental assistants, office staff, and other essential employees. Dentists have had to adapt by practicing flexible staffing, hiring temporary staff to fill in until they are properly able to support full-time staff again.
Besides dealing with these multi-faceted retention problems, dentists have had to find ways to keep their practice competitive, adopting new technology and procedures to provide the best care for clients. With the demand for cosmetic dentistry rising rapidly, practices need to purchase the technology necessary to provide this service for their clients. Beyond that, the adoption of laser dentistry tools and 3D printers for dental materials are the near-future standard that dentists must account for going forward. With the aforementioned issues regarding patient and staff retention, finding the budget room necessary to update to new technological standards and meet a spike in demand for cosmetic dentistry proves to be a difficult task for many practitioners.
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“The Biggest Challenges Dentists Face in 2022.” [Blog]. 7 March, 2022. The Dental CFO. https://www.thedentalcfo.com/the-biggest-challenges-dentists-face-in-2022/ [Accessed July 6, 2022]
“The Main Challenges of Dentistry in 2022.” [Article]. 22 March, 2022. Own Your Own Future. https://www.ownyourownfuture.com/what-is-the-biggest-challenge-for-dentists/ [Accessed July 6, 2022]