Fewer U.S. and Canadian dental students are choosing private practice and instead are opting to join large dental chains, which are gobbling up dental practices. This means patients have fewer options when selecting a dentist.
"For specialists, such as a periodontists or orthodontists, it is a nobrainer to become employees of corporations so they can have a steady income without the headaches of owning a business but, in general dentistry, the answer is not so clear cut--and with new problems and challenges in setting up a practice, patients probably will see less independent dentists in the future," says Alex Zlatin, author of the Responsible Dental Ownership: Balancing Ethics and Business Through Purpose, and CEO of Maxim Software Systems, Winnipeg, Canada, a dental practice management company.
Many independent dentists believe that the corporations are losing the human side of dentistry. They feel some corporations view patients as cogs in their corporate machine rather than individuals who need to have a relationship with their dentist, Zlatin asserts.
Recently, corporations have bought up hundreds of practices in Canada in attempts to monopolize the industry. The Dental Corporation of Canada, one of the country's biggest dental...