Why Dentists are Closing Their Practices
Dentists are ordinary people just like the rest of us. Sometimes we become frustrated with our career choice and decide to make some changes. This is no different than what dentists do. Anyone can suffer from a type of burnout or just become disenchanted by what we used to love. If the passion is not there, then it might be time to consider tweaking a few things to make yourself happy again.
However, there are other reasons that dental practices are closing around the country as well. It is just not dentists that are revolting and have had enough of their patients’ complaints. Below are some of the main reasons why some of these dental offices are closing up their doors.
Not Recession Proof
There has been a continuing trend in the dental field for the last ten years. Fewer patients are coming through the doors, and they are visiting much less often. People are having to make cuts to make their family budgets work, and for many, seeing the dentist is a luxury that they just don’t have any longer. If the choice comes down to putting food on the table or having that sore tooth looked at, most adults are going to choose feeding the family.
When surveyed, 23 percent of adults stated that they do not plan on going to the dentist in the next year. Even those people with dental insurance proclaimed that if they are healthy and nothing is bothering them, then they do not need feel the need to visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings and a checkup.
Lack of Dental Insurance
There are many companies that once offered dental insurance to their employees, but claim they no longer can. Employee health insurance premiums have risen so much that often dental and vision have had to be cut to help try to offset the cost. About 50 percent of the population have some type of current dental benefits. However, as we all know, just like with health insurance, there are always deductibles that must be met first. And quite a number of dental insurance policies have caps on how much each person is afforded a year. The rest comes right out of the patient’s pocket. If the patients no longer can afford their dental work, then they make the decision to do without. This in turn affects the dentist’s bottom line and could cause them to close their doors.
It was often common for someone to graduate from dental school and quickly open up their own practice. They immediately become a new business owner and become responsible for everything that goes along with that. They rent or buy the space, hire employees, purchase equipment, design the offices, and rapidly become accountable for many people’s livelihoods. Just because someone is a good dentist, it does not make them a good business owner.
In 2005, only about 8 percent of dentists were employees. This means that 92 percent were their own bosses and had their own practices or shared a practice with someone else. Currently, the number of dentists that are employees has risen. The number is much closer to 15 percent now. This means that the number has almost doubled in the last ten years.
Corporate dentistry and group practices are on the rise. Dentists no longer have to have the burden of running the business completely. They can be like everyone else and collect a paycheck, then leave all the business decisions to someone else.
Still, there are other dentists that have chosen to expand their medical services and sometimes enter into a brand new medical profession. Dr. Avi Weisfogel, a New jersey based dentist, had a successful dental practice for 15 years. He was operating a practice that most dentists dream of. His patients were loyal and they enjoyed coming to him. His office had won several awards proclaiming that they were the best dental office in the area. But Weisfogel had lost a bit of the passion for dentistry that he started with.
Weisfogel noticed more and more of his patients seemed to be suffering from sleep disorders. More specifically, he was noticing firsthand that quite a few were undiagnosed patients with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be a serious condition where the person often holds their breath while sleeping. Sometimes it lasts for seconds, and other times it will last for several minutes. This produces less oxygen for the body. It can often result in serious health consequences. Plus, most people that suffer from it have no idea that they actually have it.
Dr. Weisfogel made the tough decision to leave his dental practice behind and start a sleep clinic of his own. Then he began teaching other medical professionals how to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. He created oral appliances that can actually prevent sleep apnea from occurring. While he stayed in the medical field, he left being a dentist in the rearview mirror.
Lack of Social Media Presence
Ten years ago, businesses were on top of things when they had their own website. It was often one of the first things that new dental practices would do to announce that they were open and ready for business. However, stale websites that are not often updated can actually hurt a business. People look at a website and notice when nothing has changed on it in the last year, let alone several years.
It may seem crazy, but in 2005 the number one social media network was MySpace. Facebook wasn’t the monster it is now. Twitter was just an idea and still a year away from beginning. Fast forward to 2017, and the landscape has changed dramatically. If a dental practice or any company for that matter just has a website, they are behind on the times. If they still have a MySpace account, they may not be doing any business at all. Dental practices should be present on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if they want to make their presence known on social media. Updating all of these accounts does take time though.
Dentists must do all of this while monitoring online patient reviews and putting out any fires quickly from unhappy customers. A couple bad reviews could cost a dentist quite a bit of business. So not having social media accounts can hurt them greatly, and not monitoring the accounts daily could end their business. Whatever happened to just being a good dentist? Because of all these reasons, it should come as no surprise that the solo dental office could eventually be a thing of the past.
Read our previous article on Dr. Weisfogel here!