Setting goals for the future is an important part of achieving success. But it can be difficult to motivate yourself if you’re unsure of exactly where you’re going. And while these past few years have been tough on dentists in private practice, the next 10 might holdincredible opportunity for those who are properly prepared.

When you take all the statistics into account, the dental profession is a great opportunity, not only to serve the public with an unbelievably valuable service, but for it to be financially rewarding at the same time.

I’ll start out with some cold hard statistics without getting into the opinions of “how many dentists are on my street?” etc.

  • Seven dental schools closed between 1986 and 2001
  • Dental school graduates peaked in 1981 at 5,256, dropped to a low of 4,171 in 2001 and only recovered back to 4,796 by 2009*
  • Female graduates have been about 47% of the graduating classes for the past five years while making up only 22% of “Professionally Active General Dentists.”*
  • 37.4% of all professionally active dentists are 55 or older. That’s about 63,000 dentists that will be retiring in the next ten years.*
  • The United States population has expanded by 37% since 1981 (from about 226 million to 310 million).
  • Seven new dental schools are proposed to be opened, but it will be years before they have any impact on the number of graduates.

(Related: Boost Practice Performance by Refining Your New Patient Exam)

To summarize:

  • Schools have closed.
  • The Baby Boomer Generation generally includes those born between 1946 to 1964.Those Baby Boomer Dentists are reaching retirement age and that wave will continue for at least the next fifteen years. We aren’t graduating enough doctors to replace the retirees and maintain the previous dentist/patient ratio. And that’s not even taking into account the natural growth of the American population.
  • The number of female dentists are on the rise but they are, based on these statistics, practicing for less time on average than male practitioners.  I’m not pointing this out for any other reason than to illustrate that the net result is less dentists.

So, overall, we have a decreasing supply of dentists with an increasing demand (population growth). And with the current potential to train dentists fixed at sixty-two dental schools there is no way for the supply to meet the demand for at least the next ten years. Just based on these numbers alone, it’s time to flourish and prosper in dentistry.    

So, why aren’t you feeling so lucky about possessing a dental degree? It could be because you’re being limited by HMO/PPO fee-setting plans. And you can pound on your chest and be proud if you don’t participate but I’ll bet your fees are being held down by doctors whoare in plans. You can’t charge what you’re worth because you will “price yourself out of the market,” seeing as the competition are receiving so little for their services.

Now, I want to be clear that I don’t believe that insurance companies are the “Evil Empire” and need to be brought under government control, etc. This is still the United States of America and free enterprise reigns. The only problem we have is that the executives who run insurance companies are better executives than dentists. In the business arena we are getting clobbered by playing their game, by their rules, on their turf.

(Related: Is Dentistry Still a Good Opportunity?)

So what is the solution? Learn how to build a fee-for-service private practice and start giving the patients what they need instead of only what some plan allows. But how do you do that?

It’s very simple:

  1. Learn how to promote and bring in patients for whom dental health is a priority (do theMGE New Patient Course with a money-back guarantee).
  2. Learn how to get those patients to want what they need (do the MGE Communication & Sales Seminar Series). We all know that money is no problem for most people once they decide they really want something. They just figure out how to get what they want.

The solution is too simple. Look at the success stories in this paper and decide that you will be the next one.

Playing the HMO/PPO game is a deadly trap. It limits the dentistry that patients truly need and it limits the fair compensation that the doctor deserves. Many recently licensed dentists have over $250,000 in student loans plus whatever debt it takes to start a practice. It’s becoming nearly impossible to get out of the huge hole with HMO/PPO fees.

Come to MGE and learn how to create a tremendously rewarding career in a profession that is, from what I believe, the best career opportunity in the country.

*Sources: American Dental Association, Survey Center, 2009 Distribution of Dentists in the United States by Region and State. © American Dental Association.  Reprinted with permission.  All rights reserved.  Any form of reproduction is strictly prohibited without prior written permission of American Dental Association.


Dr. Gregory Winteregg provides this general dental practice management advice to furnish you with suggestions of actions that have been shown to have potential to help you improve your practice. Neither MGE nor Dr. Gregory Winteregg may be held liable for adverse actions resulting from your implementation of these suggestions, which are provided only as examples of topics covered by the MGE program.