The Mega Trends in the Dental Profession

Over recent times, many articles have been written on vast areas of dentistry and practicing, yet one important area seems to be overlooked – The mega trends in the dental profession. Today, we live in a rapidly changing society and there is much legislation that could completely change the landscape of practicing, hence the need to optimize performance to suit these changing times.

There is need to differentiate between mega trends and micro trends in the dental sub-sector. Micro trends refer to the minor developments which affect the way dentistry is practiced. Micro trends affect the manner in which certain tasks are done, yet they do not change the fundamentals of dental care.

On the hand, it should be understood that mega trends have a permanent impact on how practice is carried out. Among the most popular mega trends are the following: OHS compliance, reduced availability of dental staff, decreased funding for dental education and ensuring you meet the requirements of AHPRA, just to name a few. While most dental professionals are aware of micro trends, they have the obligation to understand any mega trends and respond appropriately

Government Regulations

Over the last 20 years, there has been a gradual increase in the amount of government regulations in dentistry. The increased government regulations have been largely due to the Occupational Health and Safety regulations, popularly known as OHS. These regulations were formulated in the mid 1980’s following the discovery of AIDS and its identification as a major public health issue.

AHPRA is the governing body in the Dental Industry with ALL practices n the health sector required to meet their changing standards

Dental Insurance

Dental coverage as a mega trend looms on the horizon. Over the next 10 years, more and more Australians will take out Dental Insurance or have it provided by their employers. As patients covered by the insurance plans will be searching for practices that participate, which hopefully most already do. As the number of people covered by dental insurance rises, the maximum benefits will remain the same and will have a huge impact on overall profitability of the practice.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Technologies and materials are ever changing and improving as we know and it is important to be up to date with these advances. Why – not only to carry out superior and high quality treatments, yet to be at a distinct advantage in the market.

The challenge for many practitioners is that around 80 percent of appointments are still for single tooth treatments, a figure that represents a mere reduction by 6 percent when compared to 20 years ago. The only way to turn these statistical figures around is by adapting to mega trends on diagnosis and also on treatment. A large percentage of appointments require deeper diagnosis and comprehensive treatment than is currently evident. Are you recognizing the opportunity to remain not only more productive and accurate in diagnosis, yet also profitable? When a practitioner carries out a more comprehensive diagnosis, a duty of care is implemented as well as several hundreds of dollars worth of treatment may be identified. I call that a win/win. I’m not suggesting you perform procedures on your patients to make extra money, its merely looking more closely at what may be required.. When single tooth treatment is reduced considerably, there are higher chances that more revenue will be generated while still taking care of the patient’s best interests.

With choices in implant dentistry, occlusal dentistry, aesthetic dentistry and simple services such as teeth whitening, many diagnostic and comprehensive treatment regimes can be identified for every patient. A practice that offers a wide range of services is better positioned to take advantage of this trend and improve its profits within a shorter period of time.

Biomedical Advances

It should be understood that dentistry has grown beyond drilling and filling and is aspiring to achieve a more restorative effect. There are now much greater chances that the majority of dental procedures will soon rely on pharmaceutical solutions and diagnostic testing as a necessity to yield the best outcomes for the patients. Among the expected pharmaceutical solutions are the use of chemicals to treat periodontal disease. Generally, biomedical choices for healthcare are increasing rapidly and dental care is no exception. Biomedical developments should inspire dentists to look for ways to become more productive and increase their profitability.

Practice Staffing

Every year is becoming harder to recruit a dental expert with extensive knowledge, skills and training. Some practices have been known to advertise certain key positions for months before they find the right candidate. This seems particularly evident in key positions like Practice Management as an example. It appears more and more difficult to hire an qualified candidate who also posses good time management, organizational, and people/service skills. Our society expects the very best from our professionals these days and rightfully so. If we are practicing good work ethic and charging for a service, we are required to deliver that service to the very best of our ability on multi levels. Every business needs to keep people walking in the door. By failing to do your best, or not creating a good team spirit, there will be negative impact on productivity and performance. The outcome – the ‘snowball’ effect will occur and there will be a reduced quality of care to the patient on an ongoing basis, possibly leading your practice into a downward spiral. As Dental Professional’s, you are required by law to follow a duty of care which extends beyond merely conducting procedures on your patients. We are required to give people a superior service and this will mean finding superior staff, no matter how long it takes