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  • Dr. David Alfaro

Who owns your dentist's office?

The "business" of dentistry has changed.

It used to be that one would graduate dental school, find a location that needed a dentist, buy a space and hang a shingle. You put your name in the yellow pages.

Not anymore. Dentistry has become a business driven industry.

Did you know that the dental office you go to can be part of a large chain of practices?

That is right. There are a couple of large companies buying up offices all across Vancouver, and really, across North America. Dentistry is no longer a mom and pop operation.

Big box retail locations are even offering dentistry as a service.

Is this where you want your health care provided? Pick up some milk, toilet paper and a root canal filling?

In BC, one has to be a licensed dentist to be an owner of an office. We would assume that this is because the owner would, you know, be doing dentistry? But this is not the case. There are people who own DOZENS of offices across the province, and there are even international companies getting into the mix. The owner of the office is not necessarily the one doing the dentistry.

Some of these locations are clearly a chain as they share the same name, so it is pretty obvious to the consumer. No real buyer beware there.

Other offices, however, can be part of a mega operation, without it being clearly indicated to the patients.

It is a sticky situation and one which the College of Dental Surgeons of BC is trying to address, along with other topics such as advertising and service promotion. Needless to say, these new bylaws have a few people up in arms.

There are pros and cons to every situation, and I know people on both sides of the coin when it comes to this new business model that has emerged in dentistry. I wont say what I feel about this trend, but I do wonder to myself.....

Should patients be informed of who owns the practice? Does it matter? Do patients even care?

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Dave

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