Looking back on 5 predictions published by DPR to see how they've held up over time.
Looking toward the future can be exciting and equally scary, as the future is always an unknown, and with an unknown, anything is possible. Still, plenty of people make predictions about the future, and they are often based on an assessment of the current trends. Over the years, Dental Products Report® has played host to numerous predictions. Here’s a look back at several from the past decade.
In the article, Dr John Flucke’s 10 practice predictions for 2014, John Flucke, DDS, chief clinical editor and technology editor of Dental Products Report®, predicted the growth of connected dental devices. “In 5 or 10 years, we’ll wonder how we ever got along without connected equipment,” Dr Flucke wrote.
It’s been 8 years, and although not every device is “smart,” there are far more connected options, including handpieces, utility equipment, and chairs. And the use of this technology seems like it will continue to grow.
In that same article, Dr Flucke predicted more 3D printing in dentistry. “In the not-too-distant future, I can see us designing restorations and printing them with very little waste,” he wrote.
Although chairside 3D printing is still gaining traction, 3D printing is now integral to many dental lab operations, and printers offer the ability to additively manufacture crowns and bridges, dentures, and much more.
In Dr John Flucke: Looking forward, looking back on dental technology predictions for 2014, a mid-year follow-up to his 2014 predictions, he predicted the demise of the overhead operatory light in favor of loupes and headlights. “LED lighting systems continue to evolve and improve. At this point, I am comfortable predicting the death of the track light,” Dr Flucke wrote.
Although loupes and headlights continue to grow more powerful and comfortable, allowing many clinicians to work without an overhead light, those mounted systems have yet to completely disappear the way Dr Flucke predicted.
In his 2017 article, The top 3 software trends for 2018, Mike Uretz predicted that cloud software would grow and evolve to meet the needs of multisite group practices. Uretz wrote, “The medical software industry has evolved toward supporting group practice over the past decade, and the dental industry is finally following in its footsteps.”
This prediction was on target. Cloud software is better able to support multiple locations, and the growth of cloud software capabilities has mirrored the rapid growth of organized dental chains.
In his 2017 article, What’s next for the solo practice?, Marc Cooper, DDS, clearly and definitively laid out the case for the rise of dental groups. “When you connect the dots from these trends, the future is obvious. Look no further than medicine, pharmacy, and optical to see what occurred with independent solo practice when similar social, political, and economic forces were at play. Consolidation was the resultant outcome. The probable future in dentistry will be the same managed group practice,” Cooper wrote, and continued, “Although the dentists, their associations and academies, the pundits, consultants, and the brokers all claim solo practice will not be vanquished, given the trends…it seems clear they are inaccurate in their predictions. I believe the future will be dominated by managed group practices.”
Although solo practices remain, the trend toward group practice models continues to grow. Based on data from the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, 2 in 3 dentists worked in a solo practice in 1999. However, by 2019, that ratio had dropped to 1 in 2 dentists. The trend is even stronger among younger dentists, with just 1 in 4 dentists under the age of 35 working in a solo practice.1 It’s clear group practices are future of the dental industry.