Marketers for specialty dentistry practices face a growing challenge: general practitioners (GPs) are increasingly capturing patient and treatment share that used to be reserved for dental specialists. However, according to a new report, one specialty is an exception to this trend: endodontics. 

“In the ever-evolving world of dentistry, the role of endodontists remains steadfast and vital,” a summary of the report notes.

Here, we highlight key findings and how they can inform marketing strategies for endodontic practices. 

Endodontists Rising

Commissioned by the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), the recently released “Endodontists Rising” dental trends report is based on an analysis of insurance claims conducted by Fluent, which revealed a dynamic that has “been playing out in the industry since 2019.”

“General practitioners (GPs) have been gaining patient and treatment share across various dental specialties, except one – endodontics,” AAE says. “This data not only showcases the resilience of endodontists but also highlights emerging opportunities in the field.”

Referring to the analysis as a “fascinating narrative,” AAE explains that although GPs have been able to expand patient and treatment share in other specialty areas such as periodontics, implants, oral surgery, and orthodontics, the same isn’t true for endodontics, a dynamic which “underscores the enduring importance of endodontists in dental care.”

In fact, even in the face of growing competition from GPs, report findings indicate consistent year-over-year (YoY) growth for both patient and treatment share for endodontic procedures. 

The impact of dental networks

Another important dynamic uncovered within the analysis relates to the impact of dental networks. Due to “rising practice expenses, labor challenges, and stagnant or declining in-network fees,” AAE says many dental professionals may consider withdrawing from network participation — a decision which could come with consequences. 

“Nationally, a staggering 79% of treatments are performed within these networks, underlining their pivotal role in patient care access,” AAE explains. “…The data vividly illustrates that patients are highly inclined to seek in-network care, challenging the assumption that patients will remain loyal regardless of network status. In the evolving dental ecosystem, the decision to terminate insurance contracts should be made with a full understanding of the potential impact on patient retention and practice sustainability.”

Geography, patient age, and retreatments

AAE also notes that within these trends both location and patient age play important roles. 

“While the data showcases the overall resilience of endodontists, it’s essential to recognize that opportunities vary by geography,” the organization explains. “Factors such as population density, demographics, and the presence of dental service organizations (DSOs) influence the dynamics of the dental industry.”

As far as trends in age demographics, AAE says the data revealed that endodontic treatment volume for patients over 65 is experiencing steady growth — which can primarily be attributed to the widespread use of Medicare Advantage plans.

“Both endodontists and GPs are witnessing an uptick in older patients seeking endodontic care,” AAE notes. 

Another trend uncovered in the data analysis relates to which providers are performing retreatments.

“Nearly three-quarters of retreatments are performed by a different provider than the one who conducted the initial endodontic therapy,” AAE explains. “Approximately two-thirds of the time, GPs perform the initial treatment, while endodontists handle the retreatment.”

The organization says these dynamics demonstrate why it’s important for endodontists to gain patient share over general dentists, since “patients often turn to specialists for complex cases or retreatments.”

Insights for marketers

Insights such as those derived from the report can help inform marketing strategies for endodontic practices, as AAE notes.   

“As the population continues to age and Medicare Advantage as well as the original Medicare product expand, endodontists have an opportunity to further cement their position in the dental industry,” AAE says. “However, it’s crucial to remain adaptable and attuned to local dynamics. By doing so, endodontists can continue to preserve and protect one of the most vital aspects of human health—the natural teeth.”

In their reactions to the report’s findings, several AAE members expressed optimism about what the data revealed.   

Dr. Derek Peek noted, “I liked reading that the number of retreatments is going up, maybe suggesting that general dentists are seeing implant failures and now realizing that endodontic retreatment has a better chance of success in an endodontist’s hands vs. an extraction and implant.”

Dr. Lauren Belous also weighed in: “…In an ever-changing dental landscape, seeing that endodontics is growing in importance in the eyes of both of our target demographics: patients and general practitioners, is extremely encouraging. This data further underscores the value of our clinical efforts and outreach locally as well as the AAE’s marketing and educational initiatives nationally. Overall, the trends indicate that endodontists will likely continue to grow in importance as part of the oral health team, ensuring longevity of our careers and passions.”

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