What will the big trends in oral health care be in 2018? Carestream Dental asked a number of experts, including Melissa Summerfield, vice president of publishing, Newcom Media, Inc., and managing director of the Oral Health Group, about their predictions for the New Year.*
Knowing that the one constant is change, I am confident in predicting that we will see further changes in the dental industry and profession in 2018. As to exactly what form those changes will take, that is far less certain. However, I’ll throw in my two cents worth of what is—at best—a somewhat-educated guess.
I believe we will see further adoption of digital technologies within the dental office and operatory. I foresee greater use of such technologies as intraoral cameras, digital caries detection systems and CAD systems, such as digital scanning. While in-office milling units have certainly come down both in price and size, I am not convinced we will see a huge increase in offices doing their own lab work in-house, although it will likely increase somewhat due to the factors of price and size mentioned earlier. It will be interesting to see what develops with 3D printers and what impact they will have in the practice, since there was such an emphasis on this product area at this year’s IDS.
I think trade shows and conventions will continue to struggle with decreased attendance, even though I personally believe in and espouse their value. For convention organizers, there will be ongoing challenges as they lose traditional established dental companies as exhibitors. Satisfying the expectations of remaining exhibitors will be difficult, as attendance and traffic on the exhibit floor decline.
Within the profession, I believe we will continue to see the growth of corporate dental practices. While this form of ownership is not right for all dentists or practices, it is certain they are here to stay, and in my opinion their numbers will continue to grow significantly. I think many dentists face ongoing challenges in the realm of running their practices as successful small businesses, so signing up with a corporate group perhaps represents for them a way to reduce or eliminate those challenges.
On the media side, I think we will see manufacturers looking to find new ways to deliver their message to dentists, including exploring ways to better utilize social media, expanding their use of online advertising tools while continuing to realize the value of print advertising for brand building. Regardless of the platform chosen, it will remain of key importance to deliver informational content designed to help dentists improve their practice performance.
None of this is earth-shattering or even terribly original, as I’m sure many of us are seeing/saying much the same thing. The one thing I hope does not change is dentistry’s commitment and dedication to providing all patients with the best possible care and treatment.