More than 1 million dentists practice worldwide, according to the World Dental Federation (FDI). Spending on dental services varies from country to country.
In the US, dental services account for 4.5% of total health expenditures, compared to 8% in Canada.
About 135,000 dentists' offices operate in the US, generating annual revenue of about $110 billion.
In contrast, in Australia there are around 13,525 dentists generating an annual revenue of about $10 billion.
Demand for dental services is driven largely by population growth, especially among children ages 5 to 19, who may require prophylactic and orthodontic work, and adults over 55, who may need more specialized dental work.
Profitability depends on efficient operations. Large practices have advantages in marketing, purchasing, and being able to offer a wider range of services.
Small practices can compete successfully by providing superior service or by focusing on an underserved region.
The US industry is highly fragmented: the 50 largest practices generate about 5% of revenue.
The dental industry has benefited from favorable demographic trends, technological advances and mounting awareness of oral hygiene over the past five years.
Furthermore, private dental clinics are one of the US most profitable industries.
Moreover, the industry is less dependent on health insurer reimbursements than the healthcare sector as a whole, due to patients largely paying for dental treatments out of pocket, lowering administrative costs.
Profit is expected to over the five years to 2016, due to many practices joining dental practice management companies (DPMCs), which are large companies that provide services for multiple dental offices, lowering operational costs.
Dentists perform a range of services that typically fall under general or specialty dentistry.
According to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, accounting for about 79.9% of dentists in the industry, general dentists provide services such as preventive care, diagnosis and treatment planning, as well as procedures, such as fillings, dentures and extractions.
Specialty dentistry, which includes endodontics, oral surgery, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics and pediatric dentistry, makes up an estimated 20.1% of practicing dentists.
Dentists practicing general dentistry provide amalgam and composite fillings, regular teeth cleanings, cosmetic dentistry, root canals, sealants, and oral surgery.
Other services include orthodontics, gum disease treatment, maxillofacial surgery, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) therapy, tobacco cessation and nutrition counseling, crowns and bridges, dentures, and dental implants.