Everything Dental Blog – Industry Trends and Movements

Part 1 of a 2-part series


There is a significant difference between a Fad, a Trend and a Movement. A Fad is short lived and gains momentum by hype and circumstance. A trend is a slow and steady phenomenon that gains momentum. A trend can fizzle out over time or it can gain momentum and acceptance. When a trend gains momentum for a long period of time it becomes a movement. A movement is a paradigm shift that has implications beyond adoption and acceptance. It is a dynamic change that will have profound implications for people, groups, organizations, industries and even society at large. Below are some trends and movements specific to our dental community.

  • Women in Dentistry. Over 30% of practicing dentists are female. 51% of dental school enrollment is female. Non clinical dental employees in both, private practice and the public sector are 90+% female. Women dentists are focused on cosmetic and elective services. Women dentists tend to work less hours than their male counterparts. They value form and function and have a greater tendency to talk about esthetics. These dentists recognize the impact a beautiful smile has on one’s confidence and appearance. I believe many aspiring women dentists will embrace facial fillers and other spa services that enhance the patient’s appearance and wellbeing in the future.
  • Dental trade show transformation and decline. Most dental conventions rely on continuing education and new technology as their draw. While many dental companies still attend the bigger dental conventions and conferences, many vendors have opted out of these events. They are redirecting their budgets towards SEO, SEM and E-commerce. They are also transitioning their sales organizations to better serve the new dental landscape. They are less focused on the solo practitioner and are redirecting resources to the emerging DSO and national DSO space. Back in the day, the major shows were supported by a significant percentage of dentists who were members of organized dentistry. Those older dentists relied on their local dental society and the ADA™ to provide mandated CE and other discounted business services. Today, younger dentists do not embrace organized dentistry like their predecessors. They rely on pod casts, online CE and distribution to provide much needed clinical and practice management education. Many of them have debt, are starting a family and haven’t got the time for full day seminars. They prefer to get their CE, compliance and other updates on demand 24/7.
  • Bundling. In order to remain competitive and stimulate sales, bundling products and services has become a popular strategy for manufacturers and dental dealers. In many cases, the marketer will bundle strong products (market leaders) with less popular ones, new products or underperforming products to grow sales and increase market share/penetration. Bundling enhances the sellers value proposition and does save the practice money. Some companies bundle products by hooking you on a free trial or freemium. In addition to increasing sales, bundling clouds pricing transparency. The consumer never really knows how much each product in the bundle costs individually.
  • Subscriptions. This is another tool used by marketers to attract consumers and grow profits. Businesses love to sell subscriptions because the consumer never truly owns the product or service and pays for it in perpetuity. Let’s say you pay $200 a month for twenty years as a service and support fee to a software company. After 20 years, you would have spent $48,000.00 for a service agreement. Subscriptions generally guarantee the latest version or the newest model and free software upgrades etc. In most cases, the value proposition is justified. However, certain subscriptions or monthly charges don’t make good business sense. For decades, dentists have paid approximately $20 a month to the company who processes their credit card transactions for the use of a credit card swipe machine at their front desk. For the last few years, many of these older credit card swipe machines have been upgraded to accommodate the new EMV chip. That old swipe machine, after ten years of service, cost that dentist $2400 and they never got to own it. Businesses love subscriptions because they automatically roll over and the consumer likes them because they have a small monthly payment. In the end, the business benefits from the ability to forecast revenue and they gain access to valuable consumer data. Subscriptions require registration, which delivers pertinent consumer info to the seller that can be harnessed and utilized later. Dentists are generally unaware how much they are spending on subscriptions, memberships and contracts or how much data they provide to those companies. In the future, dental service organizations will consolidate or cancel some subscriptions. The reseller will respond with bundled service agreements to secure the business.
  • Direct to consumer products – The movement towards direct to consumer marketing in dentistry has exploded. Years ago, DTC marketing was limited to toothbrushes, mouthwash, dentinal sensitivity and whitening products. Many people see DTC marketing as an aberration, but it is not. DTC marketing works and it will continue to grow. Companies like Invisalign™, Smile Direct Club™ and Clear Choice Dental Implant Centers™ are the first wave. Young people, millennials and business people live on their phones and computers. If you want to talk to them, you must be where they are. While you may have several reasons why selling healthcare via digital platforms is problematic or uncomfortable, I can give you dozens of reasons why you should embrace this technology to empower you and your business.


Look for part two of this series next month!