There has been a growing trend within the United States in the past two decades for dental practices to expand with multiple dentists practicing at one location. These are commonly called group practices, or dental clinics. Unfortunately, this comes as bad news to families according to several recent major publications. The Journal of Dental Education, as one example, suggests that this recent trend is causing an overall decline in the quality of dentistry being provided, as well as a greater lifetime cost to patients seeking treatment.
The first notable trend is the lack of quality that group dentistry practices provide, and the Modern Dental Society frames the issue in a very simple way. When you visit a group practice you aren’t seeing a dentist, you are seeing the practice. Most importantly; the practice is a business, it is not a person, it is not familiar, and it is not concerned about your personal wellbeing. The practice wants to make sure that it can service as many patients as possible in one day, and because of this, the quality of dentistry that each patient receives is dramatically reduced.
The second reason is cost. This may come as a surprise as group clinics are typically perceived as being cheaper than other practices. Unfortunately the data suggests otherwise. In a recent case study performed by NYU practitioners, patients of group clinics paid an average of 13% more than patients of single dentist practices over the course of two years. What is the reason behind the cost difference? According to the study, dentists in single practices were able to know the patient on a stronger level and were familiar with the patient’s history; therefore they were better served to provide consolidated services in addition to treatments that were more effective for each patient’s individual needs and unique history. Group dentists on the other hand treated everything independent of the patient, and because of that, required more services to be charged on average, many of which considered to be unnecessary.
At the end of the day, think twice before hopping on the movement for group dental clinics, and remember to thank your dentist for their personal commitment to you, year after year.