As an internationally trained dentist, you will encounter many economic realities that will undoubtedly affect where and how you choose to practise. Current trends that characterize the Canadian dentistry workforce and practice landscape vary by region and legislative jurisdiction, but may include:
- The expansion of corporate dental practices
- Fewer associate opportunities available
- Increasing purchase prices for practices
- Need for ongoing investment in expensive equipment and technology
- New graduates with minimal ability for investment in new practices
- New dentists looking for guaranteed income to allow for management of debt load
- Increasing numbers of women in the profession, often seeking more regular hours and benefits, such as paid maternity leaves
- Desire for work-life balance, flexible schedules and guaranteed salaries
- Desire for less interaction with insurance companies
- Established dentists looking to extend their career while decreasing work hours and cashing-out the value of their practices
- Increasing presence of practice management companies offering seminars to dentists to provide information on how they can become partners, corporate executives and directors in corporate dentistry
- Non-traditional competition in the practice environment, such as independent dental hygiene practices and dental care available in large retail stores
Currently, there is widespread debate regarding the "over- saturation" of dentists in Canada. Some reports suggest that there is a growing per-capita pool of dentists in particular jurisdictions, primarily large urban centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
One result of the "over-concentration" of dentists in urban centres has been a trend toward bidding wars for successful dental practices when they are for sale. Indeed, with the cost of opening a new practice starting at about $600,000, many young dental professionals would rather buy an office that already has a full patient load (Blackwell, 2013).
The suggested tightening market for dentistry means that now, more than ever, dentists need to run their practices as efficiently as possible, ideally by joining forces with colleagues in group offices to share the high cost of equipment and other practice related expenses.
It is also important to consider how regional factors affect the resale value of dental practices. Outside of major urban centres there is a significantly lower resale value for dental practices which has led to an even greater need for new dentists to form group practices.
As a dentist in Canada you have the option to be an associate dentist within a practice, buy a practice or start a practice from scratch. Recently, there has been a shift towards the corporatization of dentistry in Canada. In the US, corporate interests own 30–40% of all dental offices. In Canada this figure is 2% but steadily rising.
It has been predicted that corporate practices will potentially find it increasingly easier to buy existing dental practices and to recruit the workforce needed to operate them. As a result, the future of solo practices in the current environment is set to decline.