Top Challenges for Dentists (And Tips for Resolving Them)

Affordable Care Act

March 23, 2010 – Date enacted

January 20, 2017 – Date an executive order to begin repealing it was signed

Dental patients are confused and/or fearful of these changes

“Dental insurance, for the most part, isn’t covered under the Affordable Care Act. However, children’s dental coverage is a required benefit included on all ACA-compliant plans and cost assistance can be applied to any Marketplace plan that includes dental.”[1]

Resolution: Education

Dentists are going the extra mile to over-educate patients on how dental benefits work and what plans are accepted. They are also offering in-practice plans to better serve patients.

Consolidation of Providers


Percentage of dental practices with 10+ employees accounting for percent of total receipts in 1992

 Independent dentists have trepidation about this growth.

“Though dentistry has traditionally been referred to as a ‘cottage industry,’ not only are the cottages increasing in size, but they are more likely to be part of large multi-unit dental firms.”[2]

Resolution: Differentiation

Now more than ever, independent practices are investing in target market research, professional brand development and reputation management efforts in order to differentiate themselves in the market.

Encroaching Competition


Number of dental schools in 1950


Number of dental schools in 2013

This means that the marketplace is flooded with new dentists.

“In addition, several universities around the country are in various stages of planning to open a new dental school, although there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the number of these plans that will come to fruition.”[3]

Resolution: Collaboration

Gone are the days of the single practitioner working as a lone wolf. Independent dentists are pooling marketing budgets for broader and deeper market penetration, starting small group practices and collaborating in other creative ways to stay ahead of the growing competition.

Shift to Digital Marketing (and More Marketing Needed)

2008 – ADA marketing guidelines for dental practices were still quite strict

2016 – The year that the ADA published a Managing Marketing Module

“Where is your next new patient coming from? Do you know why patients are loyal to your practice? How can you avoid losing patients to another practice? The one answer to most of these questions is likely an easy one: ‘Marketing.’”[4]

Resolution: Marketing Prowess

Practices are no longer cobbling together marketing solutions, but are now hiring full-service marketing agencies to drive patients and production into the practice.