When choosing between an independent local dentist and a corporate dentistry chain, you should know they’re not the same. Corporate dental offices have different priorities than local offices, which can affect your care. Let’s explain.
Dentists usually go into their field because they like to take care of patients. Their training focuses on taking good care of the patient and promoting oral health and function. When you visit a local dental office, you’re visiting a practice where the decisions are made by a dentist whose goal is your healthy smile.
Most corporate dental chains are owned by private equity firms and were created to make money. The MBAs that run them have spent years in school learning to maximize profit, not care for your oral health.
What Drives Corporate Dentistry?
Corporate dental practices cater to patients who may feel they can’t afford to maintain their teeth. These chains run lots of ads that promote cheap or free initial treatments, and they make money on volume. That means there is pressure on each dentist to see as many patients as possible. While these dentists are trying to provide good care, they answer to corporate overseers. They’re often under pressure to meet sales goals for retention or to receive bonuses. Chain dentists get only so much time per patient, with little leeway. That poses problems for patients who may need more attention, perhaps because they’re anxious or have a complicated health history.
In a chain practice, the purchaser of equipment and materials may not be a dentist. That can limit your care options. For example, the bonding composites used to make beautiful smile restorations are more expensive than those needed for basic fixes. Considering that their target clients may not be aware of the difference, corporate dentistry chains have no incentive to carry these high-end materials.
One advantage of corporate chains is they have several dentists on staff. Usually, they can accommodate you easily in an emergency. However, they also tend to hire recently graduated dentists who soon move on. That means the dentist who cared for you last time may not be there at your next appointment. Plus, they will likely not have the warm, family-like environment that a practice like ours would have.
Advantages of Local Dental Care
When you receive care at a local dental practice, you benefit from their independence. The dentist controls how the practice operates, so they can spend the time they need with patients. They choose treatments and materials without corporate oversight. Local dentists tend to cost more since they don’t rely on high-volume business. However, they have the freedom to guide your treatment based only on your health and aesthetic needs.