The Changes and Challenges Reshaping the Dental Industry


The field of dentistry is undergoing a seismic shift, and no one understands this better than Matt Zolfo, mergers and acquisition consultant at Professional Transition Strategies. Recently, Zolfo was a guest on the Bite-Sized Dental Marketing series by Pain-Free Dental Marketing to discuss the changes and challenges currently reshaping the dental industry. Here are the key takeaways.

A macro view of dental challenges

One of the key points that Zolfo highlighted was the increasing struggle of private doctors to cope with the same macro factors that many businesses today are facing. The most significant of these is the people factor, the human element that is the backbone of every industry. Dentistry, like all industries, is heavily influenced by the attitudes and desires of its workforce.

Traditionally, the career trajectory for a dentist followed a somewhat predictable path: beginning as an associate in an established practice, gaining experience and insights, and then venturing out to start an individual practice. However, this path is becoming less traveled as more dentists choose employment’s stability and predictability over the autonomy and potential instability of owning a private practice.

This shift in preference, driven mainly by a desire for comprehensive benefits, retirement plans, and a structured work schedule, is reshaping the dental industry’s employment landscape.

Where is the dental industry headed?

Dentistry’s shift towards consolidation is a topic that piques a lot of interest. Zolfo predicts that we could see 60% to 65% of dentists participating in consolidation, while 35% to 40% might resist this change and continue operating independently. He bases these projections on patterns observed in other healthcare fields, such as the hospital and pharmacy systems, which underwent similar consolidation trends years ago.

Despite the trend towards consolidation, Zolfo believes there will always be room for the traditional dental practice model, wherein a dentist hangs a shingle and operates independently. He suggests the future will likely hold a balance between consolidated practices and standalone ones.

Takeaways from Zolfo’s discussion

  • The dental industry is experiencing a paradigm shift, with more professionals opting for the stability of employment over the autonomy of owning a private practice.
  • Looking at past trends in similar industries, we could see a 60%-65% consolidation in the dental industry within the next 7 to 10 years.
  • Despite the trend toward consolidation, there will continue to be space for dentists who wish to operate independently.
  • As the industry changes, dental professionals must stay adaptable and explore different avenues for practice.

In conclusion, the landscape of the dental industry is continually evolving. Zolfo’s insights remind us that it’s essential for dental professionals to keep their eyes open, be aware of the changing tides, and be prepared to adapt accordingly. We should view these shifts not as challenges but as opportunities to redefine our practices in ways that work best for us.

What’s next?

For more industry insights and expert guidance, be sure to connect with us at Professional Transition Strategies. Our mission is to assist dental professionals in understanding the evolving landscape and adapting their practices for future success. Change is manageable when you have the right strategies and the right partners on your side.