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Traveling dental specialist trend growing, helps dentists keep treatment in-house

Jan. 16, 2017
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More than 50% of dental treatments related to extractions and implant cases are expected to be performed in the private practices of general dentists within the next 10 years, predicts Michael Hill, the president of Cambia Dental Lab.

“We have a pretty strong bias at Cambia Dental Lab that qualified specialists are best suited to perform specialty dental treatments," Hill said. "However, the outsourcing of specialty dental treatments to a wide variety of disparate dental professionals peaked several years ago. That business model is rapidly declining and being replaced by a growing number of itinerant dental specialists who perform specialty treatments within the practices of general dentists. The demand for traveling specialists is very strong as dentists try to increase practice revenue.”

“It’s inevitable," he continued. "The financial viability of the private practice dental office is in serious risk long-term unless the business owners, the general dentists, start planning strategically and expand their treatment services. As the private practice dentist begins to add these new services in-house, the demand for outsourced specialty dental services will continue to diminish. We are already seeing this happen and the trend is growing much faster than I think any dental professional anticipated.”

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Hill's claim is certainly not outrageous, especially when considering that nearly 90% of European general dentists place implants. While domestic dentists may have been reluctant to pursue many relatively light surgical procedures in the past, there is no question that the prevailing conservative mentality has shifted. Advances in treatment protocols, modern digital planning technology, and material innovations have opened the door for tens of thousands of general dentists to add group practice services in house.

Reduction in insurance reimbursements and increased competition from dental service organizations (DSOs) have provided the motivation for dentists to look at new ways to improve the financial performance of their practice.

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“General dentists refer out billions of dollars of treatment revenue every year to local dental specialists," Hill said. "That lost production revenue has become the low hanging fruit for increasing practice revenue. Rather than sitting by and watching more and more dentists obtain the training necessary to perform these treatments themselves, there is a unique opportunity for specialists to partner with the private practice dentist. Together they share in the financial value of the treatment while ensuring patients receive the best care by the most experienced dental professionals."

Traveling dental specialists are the practical manifestation of industry changes. Many of the itinerant specialists have brick-and-mortar practices but just not enough patient referrals to stay busy four or five days per week. By expanding their geographical service area footprint and providing traveling dental services two or three days per month, they become a resource for a new population of private practice dentists.

“One challenge traveling specialists face is finding enough work on a specific day to support their professional income goals," said Hill. "That's where we come in. Our relationship with MyPractice9 allows us to put a large number of high value treatments like multi-unit implant cases in front of our clients each month. The specialists we work with choose cases to do, which days they want to work, and which city they want to work in. The dental specialists we advocate for earn a minimum of $3,000 per day and in many cases much more. As a matter of fact, we currently have more dentists looking for traveling specialists than we have specialists available to do the work."

Specialists interested in working with Cambia Dental Lab should contact the company at (877) 422-6242.

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