Corporate Dentistry vs Private Practice

Most of us in the Second District Dental Society are in private practice and either work in our own practices or work as assoxiates for an owner dentist.  One of the new modalities of dental practice has evolved into corporate ownership of a dental practice.  The meaning of this term is the ownership of a dental practice is owned by a corporate entity with a dentist potentially acting as the front person for legal reasons.

The bottom line with any corporation is the pursuit of profit in order to meet the goals of the shareholders and the corporation.  A corporation of any type exists to make as much money as possible in as short of a time frame as possible.  Most of us feel that a dental practice exists to provide the best evidence-based healthcare services and making money is a tangential benefit although a very important one as this is how we live and support our families and our business.

Most of us would usually agree that making as much money as possible should never be the primary goal of a dental practice.  An appropriate saying would be something to the effect of rendering the best care you can to each and every patient and the money will take care of itself


Private practices do not have an unlimited budget for marketing and most of us cannot access the huge discounts on supplies given to the big corporate entities by suppliers.  The private practice tries to compete on service and empathy and humility to the patient.  Many of these people through the years become friends along with being patients.

Private practices usually are quite specific in enumerating treatment plans and money obligations to the patient.  There have been quite a few reported cases of deceptive practices with certain corporate dental chains.

The appeal of corporate dentistry to younger dentists who owe student loans to the tune of up to half a million dollars can be understood if there is a fast return to earn as much as possible in a short time to help pay off these loans. Unfortunately many of the supposed owner dentists are the ones who are responsible for any mistakes made on a patient but the corporate entity largely dictates the terms of dental practice in their own offices.

The gist of the story here is the corporate practice possibly offers a quick money return to the young dentist with very little potential for long term opportunities.   Loss of one's independence is the crux of the issue and we as organized dentistry should emphasize the importance of never surrendering this independence.

Dentistry hopefully will not go the way of medicine shere we will lose our independence in private practice.  This article is not meant to touch the issues of either Medicaid or Obamacare and these are issues for a future commentary.

Published April, 2015 in Second Dentistry Dental Society Bulletin, Brooklyn, NY


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