The dental industry as a whole is an ever changing commerce that fluctuates with the ebb and flow of the economy, changing its method of delivery of services at a fairly frequent rate. For stakeholders and providers of dentistry to maintain relevancy, they must embrace the future, and all the changes that come with it.
One of the major positives to note in dental hygiene is the fact that more and more people are acknowledging the relationship between oral health and total health overall. Individuals are beginning to take better care of their teeth and gums now that more knowledge on the subject has been brought to light. With that said, a shift in the demographic has taken place. Older members of society are beginning to maintain healthy sets of teeth for longer periods of time, forcing developers of implants, dentures, and other oral substitutes to adjust their methods and improve the products’ lasting abilities.
A rather grim statistic the world of dentistry is facing is the dwindling number of students entering the field. Enrollment in dental schools has been declining within the last few decades, leading to a larger number of retiring dentists with fewer professionals to fill their spots. Because of this, the number of businesses seeking to hire dentists is shrinking as well. This proves extraordinarily difficult for those who reside in states that require hygienists to employed by licensed dentists.
These changes bring into question the traditional model of a team of hygienists led by a single dentist. While it is unlikely that this model will change entirely, innovation is bound surface in this area. For example, the areas in which dentists and their teams may practice is almost guaranteed to change within the coming years. Rather than working out of one office, these dental professionals may visit retirement communities, schools, health clinics, or even offer in-home visitations.
Due to constantly changing times, many hygienists are becoming entrepreneurs, in that they are designing their own ways to deliver the care needed by patients, and focusing on the “how” and “where.” One of the ongoing debates is improved portability that includes every tool necessary in a dentist’s or hygienist’s handbag. The more easily a dental professional is able to travel with his or her equipment, the further they can go, both literally and figuratively.
Customer service in the field of dentistry is perhaps as important if not more than the services provided themselves. Patients should be comfortable, and receive the best care possible by all dental professionals. A common cause for concern among patients is the pain that comes with certain procedures. A step in the right direction in terms of innovation would be developing tools, and processes that make one’s experience in a dentist’s office much more enjoyable and pain-free; something that is easier said than done with what little we know about anesthesia, for example.
Many dental professionals are constantly working at a diligent pace to improve their practices and standards and adapt with the changes that the future brings. As they do so, the challenges brought forth create an entirely new set of goals for all dentists and hygienists to strive for, possibly further improving the industry at a faster rate.