Future of Dentistry
The ADA is here to help you understand the policies, trends and opportunities impacting the dental profession.
Here you'll find an overview of everything presented at the ADA Success program, as well as links to further resources.
5 Trends in the Dental Care Market
There are five main trends that have brought the dental sector to where we are today.
- Declining Adult Dental Care Utilization
Dental care utilization is at the highest rate ever among children, but continue to decline among working-age adults. Utilization among adults began declining even before the great recession, with only about a third of adults visiting the dentist today.
- Financial Barriers to Obtaining Dental Care
Working-age adults continue to report cost barriers to obtaining needed dental care. Additionally, working-age adults have shifted value away from obtaining dental services, using that money to purchase other goods and services that they deem more important.
- Leveling off of dental care spending per capita
The amount of money spent on dental care in the United States has stagnated. This stagnation in spending began well before the great recession of 2008 and has yet to recover, representing a new normal for the dental sector.
- The number of new dentists entering the profession has grown
- Dentist earnings are declining
Taken together, these trends lead to our fifth point involving dentist earnings. The average annual net income among dentists began declining prior to the great recession and has yet to begin recovering. However, it is important to note that declining average earnings have also been observed among other professional groups, including veterinarians, optometrists, and lawyers.
5 Future Forces Reshaping the Practice Environment
- Changes in the healthcare landscape
The healthcare landscape as a whole is moving away from a model that focuses on providers and disease treatment, toward a model that focuses on the patient and on population health, wellness and prevention. This shift is accompanied by a move away from the traditional, fee-for-service method of reimbursement to and outcome and value-based reimbursement system that focuses on wellness.
- Shifts in the patient mix
There will be increases in demand for dental services among children and seniors. Additionally, we will continue to see an increase in the number of Medicaid-insured children and adults seeking dental care as states expand Medicaid eligibility. Finally, we will continue to see a reduction in the number of middle- and high-income, privately insured working-age adults seeking dental care.
- Increased consumerism
Providers can expect to see increased consumerism in the coming years. Patients are starting to treat health and dental insurance as they would other products, shopping for the plans that best address their specific health needs in the most cost-effective way.
- Team-based care
The healthcare system is moving toward team-based care with several specialties working together in settings such as accountable care organizations. The dental profession has the opportunity join these wellness and prevention-focused teams.
- Practice consolidation
Finally, the dental sector will continue to see practice consolidation with fewer solo practices and more medium- to large-group practices with varying governance structures.
3 New Opportunities
- Embrace the value agenda
Dentists have an opportunity to embrace and lead the value agenda. The ADA, together with other partners, is positioned to lead policy dialogue in this area.
- Embrace the growing market segments
The oral health landscape will continue to see increased demand for dental services among children and seniors. We will also continue to see increased demand among Medicaid-enrolled individuals as more states move forward with the decision to expand eligibility for their residents. Developing a patient mix that successfully includes these individuals will ensure that you have a robust and busy practice while helping to improve the population’s oral health. Additionally, the ADA is working with its partners on advocacy efforts to improve Medicaid programs in states.
- Collaborate with other healthcare professionals
You can enhance collaboration among other healthcare professionals. There are significant opportunities for physicians and dentists to work together to ensure patients are receiving whole-body care. In fact, one analysis estimates that under certain collaborative arrangements dentists could see up to 50 new patients.
|The Future of Dentistry
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ADA and ASDA Student Membership - Most dental students are members of the ADA and ASDA. You join both organizations at the same time. Members receive special benefits and resources to support you during school and help you prepare for your dental career. Learn more about your ADA student membership. You can find information on ASDA at ASDAnet.org.
Stay in touch with the ADA after graduation. Contact us at email@example.com or complete the Member Profile.
ADA Membership After Graduation - After graduation, you can continue your membership with the ADA. The first year is free and most state and local societies also offer reduced dues. If you’re going into a residency, you receive a special student rate and then pick up the free year after your program. Get on your feet and connect with your professional association to help you get there. Learn more.