Ouch! For a long time, practices have been able to keep the second economic slowdown at arm’s length due to the relative inelasticity in the medical and dental professions. Then June, July and August happened and all that changed. The summer of 2011 will go down as a particularly challenging time for many practices. The findings of a recent study by our friends at Oral Health America bear this out.
More than one third (35 percent) of those who regularly visit the dentist have cut back. In other words, they stopped coming in. Additional findings in the public opinion survey found that a greater number — nearly one-half (47 percent) — of larger households and those with younger children have cut back on their visits to the dentist in the past year. Those who have younger children cut back more frequently than those households that have slightly older children.
The uncomfortable truth is that the current economic conditions may become the new normal for the foreseeable future. And while the economy will improve, (repeat after me, it will improve) and patients will eventually find their way back into our practices, the immediate question we all face, is “now what?”