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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chain dentist offices are affordable, but what about quality of care?

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By Clark Howard


Dentistry is undergoing changes that will bring both positives and challenges to the marketplace for years to come.

One trend that looks set to shape the future is the rise of chain dentistry practices. I read a story in The Detroit Free Press about Great Expression Dental Centers as just one example of this. This chain has about 200 offices nationwide and employees 2,300 people.

What does a chain dentist office mean to you as a consumer? In theory, if you go to a chain, there would be efficiencies in overhead, what are called economies of scale.

But the problem is what’s the care like? Who's accountable? Do you see the same person each time or does nobody know your dental history?

I’ve gone to the same dentist for 15 years. The hygienist remembers my teeth and the exact situation with each tooth without even looking at e-chart because there’s this continuity of care.

The advantage of these chains is lower prices. People too often neglect dental care, so the chains driving down price is good, but the question remains what is the quality of care? You can’t focus on price alone.

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