A recent study published by SIkka Software Corporation indicates a correlation between dental trends and the health of the economy. “There seems to be a connection between the health of our teeth and the health of our economy,” says Dr. Wells, owner and dentist at South Charlotte Dentistry. South Charlotte Dentistry, located in the Ballantyne neighborhood of Charlotte, provides family and cosmetic dentistry. “Oral health care is often sacrificed during times of economic lows,” explains Dr. Wells.
The study by Sikka Software Corporation examines dental patient behavior. According to the study, the dental index suggests economic pain ahead. Sikka Software looked at the following indicators: patients’ failure to return, patients just wanting a cleaning, dentists push for more treatments, and patients and insurers paying habits. These four indicators suggest that economic troubles might be in the near future.
The study shows that patient and insurer behaviors are following 2008 trends which is when the economy began to slow down. Dentists are seeing more and more patients cancel follow up appointments or choosing to just not show up to their scheduled appointments. Vijay Sikka, founder and CEO of Sikka Software, warns that “This is a forward indicator signifying lack of consumer confidence.” Patients are also opting to go without X-rays and other maintenance procedures and just getting a cleaning. “Cleanings are necessary, but for overall oral health and prevention, patients need more than that,” says Dr. Wells.
The other indicators concern revenues and payments. It seems that dentists are more likely to schedule more patient visits, encouraging additional treatments. Another concern is that patients and insurers are slower to pay during economic downturns. The study shows that outstanding bills owed to dentists are up 22 percent since last year and are approaching 2008 levels.
“Even though our practice has not experienced these same trends, the study is concerning,” says Dr. Wells, “At South Charlotte Dentistry, we practice preventative care as much as we fix dental problems. We believe preventative care reduces the cost of overall dental care.” With tooth pain often being described as the worst pain ever experienced, it seems like a good idea to prevent it from happening through regular visits to the dentist. “Oral health should not be sacrificed during economic slumps,” says Dr. Wells, “Avoiding dental care now might create the need for more expensive dental treatments later.”
Dr. Wells has been practicing dentistry for over 15 years. South Charlotte Dentistry is located at 7741 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy Ste 102 Charlotte, NC 28227, or visit their website at www.southcharlottedentistry.com for more information. They offer new patient specials and pride themselves on short wait times.