A Troubling Trend in Dentistry

by Dr. Paul Goodman Dr. Paul Goodman | Oct 31, 2023 12:43:47 PM

It is 3 a.m. and I am in a taxi with my best friend, Joe Lattinelli. Why are we not in an Uber? Because it is 2002 and Uber has not been invented yet!

We are headed to get a cheesesteak at Pat’s or Geno’s or both in South Philly. 3 a.m. cheesesteaks or pizza after “being out” was a traditional “late night treatment plan” for Joe and me while in dental school. 

Nowadays, I am a dad and writing this when I get up in the morning at 5 a.m., which is my dad wake up time. 5 a.m. used to be the time Joe and I used to get home and now look at me… so much has changed in two decades except THIS:

THIS has not changed in two decades and it is THE MOST TROUBLING TREND IN DENTISTRY (cue dramatic music).

I have a lot of dentisting stories. I have my story. I have Joe’s story. I have the stories of thousands of dentists in our Dental Nachos online group and in-person community. I have stories from being a broker selling practices, coaching buyers and stories from being a CE speaker for the past fifteen years. I also have hundreds and hundreds of Facebook, Instagram, text and email messages from concerned dentists.

So what is THIS, the MOST TROUBLING TREND in dentistry? What has NOT CHANGED since Joe and me were in dental school using our Star Tac and Nokia phones and a text message took longer to get out than a term paper? 

“My goal is to SHARE more to help you be AWARE more and PREPARE more.”

The thing that has NOT CHANGED and is the number one problem in dentistry… according to me, the guy without any studies to show you so you may as well stop reading now is… first a quick story.

One time I asked a dentist to get me a banana and you will not believe what she said back to me.

DDS asked to get me a banana: Do you want organic or non-organic? Bananas from Germany or the Netherlands1? Would you like me to read a study on the success rate of bananas from the top twenty countries that import bananas and get back to you?

Me: Thanks for the effort here. A lot of questions about the question. I admire your enthusiasm, but I just wanted one for my protein shake and now I am going to eat a cookie instead.

Today’s computer lab and study-buddy, 2020

So back to the MOST TROUBLING TREND IN DENTISTRY and what has not changed since Joe and me had to go to a COMPUTER LAB to do our work and wait for a computer to be open so we could use it. Yeah, that was a thing back in our day!

The MOST TROUBLING TREND IN DENTISTRY according to Paul “Dr. Nacho” Goodman is:

NEW DENTIST ASSOCIATE PAY IS THE SAME IN 2020 as it was IN 2002, BUT THE COST TO GO TO DENTAL SCHOOL IS two to three times the cost as it was in 2002!!!

The number MOST OFTEN used for new dentist associate pay is $500 a day with the opportunity to earn more. This number has been STAGNANT for the past two decades. Why?

Why has associate pay remained stagnant over the past two decades?

  1. Declining insurance reimbursement.
  2. Training in dental school does not translate into the skills needed to produce above the $500/day level.
  3. Decrease in the need for solo GPs to add associates as their production levels have also remained stagnant (not enough “pizza” to share if the slices in the pie are not growing).

What can dentists do to make this problem better?

  1. Learn procedures that can be ADDED to a general practice in a responsible way (extractions, bone grafting, endo, implants)
  2. Increase your level of geographic flexibility when looking for an associate position with also making sure you can lead a balanced life outside of the operatory. (*This is a tough call and a decision only you can make. There are multiple associate positions where GP associates can earn DOUBLE the normal associate pay. These positions are often in areas where the dentist to population ratio warrants MORE dentists in that area.)
  3. Improve patient communication skills to help patients “move forward” with dental care. Move forward is a phrase used often in the amazing book, To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink.

My goal is to SHARE more to help you be AWARE more and PREPARE more.

This troubling trend for dentists affects all of us. 

Want to learn more procedures, improve patient communication tips, and understand the best associateship for you? 

Join Supreme! This membership not only offers an extensive library of high-quality dental continuing education courses, but it also provides a supportive community, 1:1 personalized support, plus discounts to our in-person events & swag! Get access to the course above & more by clicking the button below: 


Additional Reading