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HPI industry report outlines "new normal"

February 07, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

The dental industry is entering a "new normal," one that is characterized by an increase in the number of dentists, shifting practice configurations, declining reimbursements, and evolving patient priorities and preferences, according to a new ADA Health Policy Institute report.

Cover image of HPI Dental Industry ReportThese are some of the institute's findings shared in the inaugural HPI Annual Dental Industry Report, released on Feb. 4. The comprehensive report, which is written mainly for companies in the dental care space, analyzes how demographic shifts are changing the dental workforce, particularly in their impact on dental school enrollment and the number of dentists choosing to practice in large group practice settings. It also looks at how reimbursement rates in private dental insurance are changing — something that is driving change in the industry. The report leverages unique data sources and expertise and, more importantly, synthesizes a few key 'so what?' insights that should guide investment decisions in the next five years for manufacturers, distributors, investors, insurers, and large dental groups.  

"The patient landscape is increasingly characterized by a consumer culture that is more cost conscious and emphasizes convenience," writes Marko Vujicic, Ph.D, vice president, HPI, in the report's executive summary. "This is seen through a number of product innovations and also in patient perceptions around affordability and the value of dental care services."

Key data from the report includes:

  • The workforce is getting more diverse. In 2018, 32 percent of dentists were women and 28 percent were racial or ethnic minorities, up from 23 percent and 22 percent, respectively, from 2008.
  • In the last 10 years, the number of dentists in solo practices has declined, going from 83 percent in 2007 to 78 percent in 2017.
  • Although dental earnings increased slightly in 2017 — up to $197,190 from $192,597 in 2016 for general dentists — they still haven't returned to pre-great recession levels. In 2005, the average general dentist earned $227,147.

The report also analyzes dental spending in regards to the payer and policy landscape. In 2017 national dental care expenditures were $129 billion, up from $118 billion in 2014.

HPI is now offering consulting services that leverage ADA data, research and expert analysis to create customized industry research. The service also includes speaking engagements for groups looking for a tailored analysis of national and state-level trends and the effects on your industry and target audience. HPI's interdisciplinary team of health economists, statisticians, and analysts has extensive expertise in policy research in dentistry and regularly collaborates with researchers in academia, the dental industry and consulting firms.

Learn more about these exclusive offerings from the ADA Health Policy Institute by visiting