We have learned that many pediatric dental offices are now owned by large corporations with the backing of private equity investors. You will never know this because when the practice is purchased by the corporation, the name of the practice remains unchanged. The pediatric dentist will stay on as an employee or partial owner and most of the staff will be retained, at least in the short term. So you may ask, why does this matter if the dentist and the staff are the same? From our perspective it matters for many reasons!
Were the patients ever informed there was a change of ownership? If not, why not?
We have learned that these corporations are able to purchase their supplies for less cost and that they get better reimbursement rates from insurance companies. This puts pressure on the locally owned small business owner in the same way big box stores put pressure on locally owned mom and pop shops.
In time the corporation makes changes to make the business more profitable. This may include limiting the amount of time allotted to each patient’s appointment, cutting staff and replacing them with less qualified, cheaper staff, cutting existing staff’s benefits, and perhaps even cutting corners in other ways to improve profitability.
There is typically turnover of staff and even turnover of the dentists after the dentists have stayed on for an agreed upon amount of time.
You can usually expect a more impersonal experience since customer service is no longer a primary concern of the practice. Relationships become secondary to profitability.
You may find that you are not given options for treatment. It takes time to explain options. Time is money.
Your child may be at risk for over-treatment as was chronicled in this 2020 article by USA Today.
If this concerns you as a parent who is looking for a dental home for your child, we recommend a simple solution when you are calling prospective practices. Simply ask them if their practice is owned by a corporation. The answer may surprise you.