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What’s Driving the Accelerated Growth of DSOs?

By Planet DDS
August 6, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic “factor” will define much in the approaching months and perhaps years. At first glance, it could also explain why DSO (Dental Service Organization) growth continues to accelerate.

There are other factors. But the reality of rebuilding a dental practice or being a private, independent dental start-up has less appeal when compared with the core of DSO identity – support!

What about the support?

By design a DSO provides operational support. Their service goal is to decrease the volume of administrative tasks required to run a dental practice.

That’s a somewhat simple definition of their support. But it has much to do with the consistent growth curve.

It’s common for the business of dentistry to overextend your energy as a dentist. A patient care focus is what keeps you in the game.

DSOs carry the weight of the business side of dentistry.

  • HR (Human Resources)
  • Payroll
  • Marketing
  • Insurance provider relationships
  • Facilities, equipment, and technology upgrades
  • Scheduling and patient communication support

There’s more, of course. Yet, these general areas encompass much of what perhaps keeps you, as a dentist, awake at night.

Those who experience a DSOs support services often become ambassadors for the transition. They’re also influencers for the growth of DSOs.

Factors influencing DSO growth

DSO growth was accelerating in 2019. Industry forecasts were anticipating an even better 2020.


COVID-19 happened!

Even so, thought leaders across the DSO landscape are optimistic as they highlight key growth drivers.

Patient-facing protocols

The pandemic highlighted safety measures. It also provided a sobering look at the energy required to keep pace with expanded and upgraded PPE usage.

The effort increased safety assurance for patients and dental team members in a pandemic-cautious culture. And yet the effort (and associated costs) stretched private and solo practices to their limits.

The collective slow return to dental care by patients causes the emotionally and financially strapped dental practice to see hope in a DSO affiliation going forward.

Practice vulnerabilities

Challenges reveal what you’re made of. That revelation can lead to opportunity or further confirm it’s time to cut your losses.

Again, COVID-19 highlighted the vulnerabilities within dental practices.

  • Lockdowns and closures caused staffing furloughs
  • Patient and provider anxiety about dental care increased
  • Supply chain reductions affected costs
  • Insurance companies delayed reimbursements
  • Staff recruiting was slowed by return-to-work fears and pay related benefits

DSOs operate out of a larger resource pool. And while they aren’t immune to certain vulnerabilities a DSO can shore-up a struggling dental practice or provide a new dentist a perceived more iron-clad career path.

And speaking of new dentists…

Start-up relief (including debt)

New dentists face a mountain of dental education debt from day one. That, along with high start-up debt, makes a DSO more appealing to new and early career dentists.

“In 2005, just under half of dentists under 35 owned a practice. That number shrank to 30.7% by 2019. But practice ownership has seen a decline in every age group, collectively dropping from 84.7% in 2005 to 76.1% in 2019.” [1]

Alongside debt, a new dentist can quickly experience other challenges.

  • Inexperience with practice management
  • Changes in the healthcare and insurance environments
  • A saturated dental market in certain locales

And those ongoing challenges new (and veteran) dentists face can include:

  • Overhead costs
  • Technology upgrade expenses
  • Supply costs
  • HR and admin tensions

Many DSOs include a sign-on benefit that delivers debt relief. And most of the related operational overhead is more easily absorbed by the financial stability of a DSO.

The business of dentistry

The tension between patient care and practice management is constant. Each are vital to practice success.

You, like others, might have discovered that you’re happiest when… However you fill in the blank is a good indication of whether a DSO has personal appeal.

You would probably agree that a patient focus is why you show up each day. And the quality of your support staff helps determine the amount of operational business you’re required to deal with each day.

A DSO fills that role with or without a quality team in place. Their “bench” is deep and they’re equipped to help you stay in the patient care “game.”

DSOs are tapped into industry resources also. And they have the legal, government, financial, and real estate connections to facilitate change and growth for enhancing your care standards.

Discover more DSO growth factors and benefits by exploring these related resources:

The Ongoing Growth and Evolution of the Top DSOs in the U.S.

What is a DSO in Dental? (And Do You Fit the Demographic?)

DSOs will continue to manage their growth and improve how patient care is provided

Cloud-based dental practice management solutions like Denticon are supporting the robust network requirements of top DSOs in the U.S. – including the following:

Lane & Associates

  • Provides family dentistry in 30+ locations throughout North Carolina – including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and surrounding areas.

Mid-Atlantic Dental Partners

Lone Peak Dental Group

  • Over 50 dental practices/offices and dental brands in Washington, Idaho, Colorado

Cloud-based systems help DSOs securely and seamlessly manage their patient care across their entire organization – regardless of size.

  • Cost effective technology and data management
  • Easy implementation for routine team and dental practice functions
  • Secure updates and scalable usage for organizational growth

Planet DDS’s Denticon is the proven cloud-based Dental Practice Management Software in today’s market among solo private practices, private group practices…and top DSOs in the U.S.

Get an inside look at how Denticon works.

Contact us for more information about how Denticon can streamline your systems and operational tasks as a DSO.

[1]                  American Dental Association Health Policy Institute. Dentists’ Practice Ownership Is Declining. Available at: https://www.