Top 5 Dentistry Trends For 2024

What are the trends and challenges facing the dental industry in the coming year?

By Genni Burkhart

Dental practices in the United States are predicted to generate approximately 144.6 billion dollars in 2024. This is up from 142.59 billion in 2023, according to data forecasts from Statista.

With this rise in revenue, what are the trending issues and top challenges the dental industry faces in the new year?

We’ll review the top five topics, including lingering staffing issues, increased focus on personalized care, and the explosive growth of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare.

1. The Personalized Patient Experience

Taking a personalized approach to oral healthcare involves shifting the focus to the patient as an individual and avoiding a generalized cookie-cutter approach to care and treatment.

The personalized approach to healthcare allows individuals to receive treatments tailored to their unique genetic, biological, and social characteristics, unlike traditional one-size-fits-all care. A customized approach targets the specific causes of a disease or condition, leading to more effective treatments while considering the patient's needs, such as any issues with dental anxiety. Additionally, personalized care allows for better patient engagement and understanding, leading to better adherence to treatment plans and improved outcomes.

Dental practices can harness the personalized approach to their marketing campaigns as well. This involves taking data-driven insights to create content for blogs, websites, email campaigns, text reminders, and patient messages to customize the care your patients seek.

Customized marketing remains a mainstay for 2024 but with an expansion into personalized patient care.

2. Information Security

As technology advances, so do the chances of being duped and misled. In today's digital age, adhering to HIPAA regulations and protecting patient data is crucial. A patient privacy violation can have serious consequences, even if unintended. To maintain security, dental practices and staff must be aware of risks.

In 2023, multiple data breaches of patient information cost millions of dollars in class-action settlements. This equated to around 10 million patients in Washington and Alaska who had their sensitive information leaked over months.

With the increased mergers of healthcare and insurance systems, the devastating cost of a data breach has pushed healthcare systems to increase diligence around protecting patient data. This also remains a focus for medical and dental practices in 2024, as criminal hackers often see them as easy targets.

3. Low Insurance Reimbursements and Rising Overhead Costs

On a recent episode of the ADA’s Dental Sound Bites podcast, Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., Chief Economist and Vice President of the Health Policy Institute (HPI) at the American Dental Association, lists low insurance reimbursement, denials, and administrative issues related to third-party payers as a “big issue,” making it number two on his list of main challenges dentists face in 2024.

Dr. Vujicic used data from monthly polling of ADA dentists and references this issue as one that keeps dentists up at night. His data also showed upwards of 42% of dentists polled said they are seriously considering dropping out of some dental insurance networks due to low insurance reimbursements.

As the cost of operating a dental practice is rising, insurance companies aren’t keeping up and have remained flat or even decreased since 2022.

4. Artificial Intelligence Technology

Also making Dr. Vujicic’s 2024 list, as well as nearly every other “New Year trends” list, is artificial intelligence (AI).

In June last year, the Incisor wrote about Chat GPT and its impact on dentistry. Chat GPT is just the latest innovation when it comes to AI, and in dentistry, it can be used to diagnose diseases, measure disease risk, and schedule appointments. In addition, it can be helpful in scientific research for detecting, treating, and preventing oral health issues.

From marketing to diagnostics, practice management, and enhanced patient experiences, look for AI to continue to evolve and offer new and exciting innovations in 2024.

5. Staffing Shortages, Recruitment, and Retention Issues

Sixty percent of ADA dentists polled last month cite their main concern remains staffing shortages, recruitment, and staff retention issues. The ADA’s Dental Sound Bites podcast lists hygiene school enrollment and dental assistant programs as continuing to trend downward, which means staffing shortages will be a long-term problem in dentistry.

As the number of available jobs exceeds the number of qualified applicants, dental practices still face recruitment and retention issues in 2024. According to a dental staffing organization, 3 out of 4 dental offices expect a talent shortage in 2024.

As many practices continue to work short of staff, it’s essential to be on the lookout for staff burnout and exhaustion and offer assistance when and where it’s needed.

That’s A Wrap!

Video marketing, bilingual outreach, and online reputation management remain top of mind for 2024. Automation in dental practice management will continue to gain popularity, as will technology that automates some aspects of patient care. Another enduring pandemic-related trend for 2024 is teledentistry, which allows patients to receive dental care remotely through virtual consultations and remote monitoring. The staying power of teledentistry is tied to patient convenience and staffing shortages.

These trends highlight the evolving landscape of dentistry, with an increasing focus on technology, convenience, and patient-centered care. By embracing these trends, dental practices can improve efficiency, enhance patient experiences, and stay ahead in the competitive market.


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Author: With over 14 years as a published journalist, editor, and writer, Genni Burkhart's career has spanned politics, healthcare, law, business finance, technology, and news. She resides in Northern Colorado, where she works as the Editor in Chief of the Incisor at DOCS Education.

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