Top 25 Dental Industry Trends & State of Dental in 2022

Are you prepared for dental industry changes in 2022?

This post was originally published August 13, 2015, and updated April 29, 2022.

Top 25 Dental Industry Trends & State of Dental in 2022

At Titan Web Agency, we work with some of the nation's top dental practices. We consider it our responsibility to stay on top of the latest dental industry trends and what they mean for our clients.

As the new year has already begun, it is time to review the current trends in dentistry for 2022 and how they’ll impact your marketing.

State of Dental 2022

NexHealth conducted a survey and released a report about the state of dentistry in 2022. Here are some key takeaways that we feel are relevant to what dentists and dental practices can expect this year.

Year of the Patient

NexHealth has dubbed 2022 The Year of the Patient. The report notes that the dental industry took a hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even patients who regularly visit the dentist were inclined to postpone cleanings and other treatments. Even with dental offices already using sanitation precautions that would make spreading the virus unlikely.

The focus in 2022 is on bringing patients back to dentistry by making it easy for them to find a practice nearby, book an appointment online, and make payments on their mobile devices. Prioritizing patient needs is the best way to attract new patients and – as the report notes – more people are expected to move in 2022 meaning that they’ll be looking for new dentists.

Growing Faster by Focusing on the Patient Experience

65% of practices surveyed said they believe they will have more patients in 2022 than they did during the pandemic. It’s for that reason that improving patient satisfaction was the #1 goal of survey respondents.

Today’s patients are savvy, and they know what they want. Dental practices have the best chance of growth when they focus on optimizing the patient experience.

Survey Demographics

To help you interpret the survey results, here’s a breakdown of the demographics of those who responded:

  • 57.49% dentists
  • 24.53% owner/dentists
  • 8.99% office managers
  • 3.63% practice owners
  • 3.15% operations
  • 1.81% marketing
  • 6.15% other

70% of respondents worked in single-office locations while the remaining 30% represented multi-office practices.

What are the Trends in Patient Experience for 2022?

In the report, three trends emerged for improving the patient experience in 2022.

  • Improving the customer experience.
  • More convenient payment options.
  • Automating insurance paperwork/verification.

Practices are focused on making every aspect of visiting the dentist more convenient for patients, from booking appointments online to making payments with a mobile wallet.

How Dental Software Can Transform Your Practice

Choosing the right dental software can transform your practice by allowing patients to book or change appointments easily, make on-time payments, and help your staff work efficiently.

Patients want to book online, so it makes sense to choose software that will allow them to do so. The same is true of streamlining the payment process. Automating processes can make your office more efficient and leave you free to treat more patients.

The Four “Deal Breakers” for New Dental Software

One of the questions the survey asked had to do with the necessary features of new dental practice management software. The right dental software can help any practice attract new patients, but what features do dentists consider to be deal-breakers? There are four features that, if absent, would rule out software.

  1. Security and reliability. The survey respondents put security and reliability at the top of their lists. Patient information must be protected, and the software must work reliably and with a minimum of problems.
  2. Ease of implementation and management. Adopting any new software requires time and effort, so dentists are more likely to choose software that’s easy to onboard and manage.
  3. Excellent customer service. In a year when the consensus is that focusing on patients is essential, it’s not surprising that dentists expect top-notch customer service from software companies. Dentists can’t support their patients if they aren’t supported.
  4. Integrations. Many dental offices use software and tools for a variety of purposes. Respondents made it clear that they prioritize dental software that integrates seamlessly with the tools they’re already using.

Items farther down on the list included cost, new features, and brand recognition.

Where to Invest to Grow Your Practice

Respondents to the NexHealth survey mentioned social media and online scheduling as the two top areas where they plan to invest money in 2022 to grow their practices.

Social Media

56% of dental practice employees and 59% of owners said their top spending priority was social media. The most popular outlets were image-friendly Instagram and community-based Facebook. Common goals included integrating posts with online booking and building brand awareness.

Online Scheduling

Second place went to online scheduling, with 44% of employees and 29% of owners calling it their top priority. We believe that online scheduling is an essential part of prioritizing patient needs since most patients say they prefer it.

We should note that owners were more likely to choose to add more services or increase their marketing spend over online scheduling.

First-Mover Advantage in the Year of the Patient

How can your practice become a first-mover and take advantage of patient growth in 2022? It all boils down to two things.

  1. Prioritizing online booking. Only 26% of survey respondents say their patients can book online and most of those are practices with high patient volume. Smaller practices are lagging.
  2. Using patient experience software. Patient portals are something today’s dental patients expect. They want to be able to schedule or cancel appointments online, view their dental records, pay their bills, and check the status of claims.

When dental practice priorities align with patient priorities, they have the best chance of attracting new patients and increasing their profits.

Dental Industry Statistics for 2021

Now, let’s look at some statistics about the dental industry in 2021. The first thing you need to know is that the dental industry in the United States is in a period of rapid growth. In 2020, dentistry was a $15.57 billion industry, and it is predicted to double by 2027 to a staggering $30.59 billion. That means there is a huge potential for growth at the practice level.

The biggest drivers of growth are increased demand for the following:

  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Dental implants
  • New dental technology

We also have an aging population in the US and that means there’s more demand for dental services in general. Here are some other statistics to keep in mind as we continue with 2022:

  • The dental implant market is $3.6 billion and is expected to grow 11% annually
  • The market for cosmetic procedures is expected to grow by 5% annually
  • According to the CDC, only 64.9% of adults and 85.9% of children saw a dentist in 2019, the last year for which numbers are available.

What these statistics show is that there’s room to grow for any dental practice in the United States.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on the Dental Industry

We can’t discuss dental industry trends without talking about COVID-19 and its impact on the dental industry. Dental practices were already accustomed to using protective gear and maintaining sterile conditions. This is one reason that, after nearly two years of the pandemic, the ADA still reports low infection rates among dentists and dental staff.

While dental practices in many areas experienced brief shut-downs at the beginning of the pandemic, they were able to reopen quickly because they already had significant precautions in place when working with patients, including wearing PPE.

The ADA is tracking information from dentists around the US every week. As of the week of October 11, 2021, 61.6% of respondents reported that their practices were open and busy. 37.4% said they were open but had fewer patient appointments than usual, while only 1% reported that their practices were closed as a result of the pandemic.

While initial predictions about the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic were dire, with the ADA anticipating a 38% decline in dental revenue, the final numbers from 2020 are not as bad as some feared they would be. Overall, dental revenue was down 6% for the year

We believe that the industry would have come back with bigger growth thanks to the vaccine rollout, but the rise of the Delta variant and continued resistance to vaccination have had an impact. As a reminder, the ADA strongly recommends that all dentists and dental practice employees get vaccinated and receive the available booster shots.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges for the dental industry, but the 25 trends we discuss here shine a light on the road ahead.

1. Creating and Maintaining a Trustworthy Persona

A Pew Research study from 2019 revealed that the tendency to trust medical and scientific experts is often affected by politics. Certainly, 2020 and 2021 have proven that to be true and we expect that it'll continue to impact dentistry as we continue with 2022.

Dental practices must establish trust with patients and maintain that trust over time. Without trust, practices have difficulty attracting new patients. Given the overall decline in dental spending that’s anticipated for 2022, attracting new patients may be a real challenge for dental practices in 2022.

Education Will Increase New Patient Registration

Many adults avoid seeing a dentist because they’re worried about their ability to pay or unsure whether their insurance will cover the treatments they receive. Others avoid dental care because they fear pain. Personal safety and COVID-19 transmission play a role as well.

Part of attracting new patients is finding ways to demonstrate your trustworthiness and expertise through any fear or reservations that potential clients may have. Some ways to do that include creating videos, blogs, and other educational content to inform patients about what to expect if they choose your practice.

Reasons why adults avoid going to the dentist

Why Adults Avoid Going to the Dentist

A new year means new opportunities to promote services and products to adults who have been avoiding making a dental appointment. It’s not uncommon for adults to postpone treatments due to an inability to pay or a belief that they don't need treatment. In addition to needing routine care, these patients may also require catch-up care.

A new and robust content marketing campaign can help you get in touch with patients who have not seen you in a while and attract new dental patients to your practice. You may decide to use a combination of dental SEO marketing, email marketing, blogging, social media marketing, and search engine advertising to build authority and trust with your patients.

2. Online Review Management

Patient referrals and reviews are some of the most powerful marketing tools you have. You need to use your online review system to its maximum potential and encourage patients to leave online reviews. Reviews are important because they help you build authority and trust.

Let’s start with some statistics. Here’s what you need to know about what your patients think about online reviews:

  • 89% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase or scheduling an appointment with a service provider.
  • 30% of consumers under 40 read reviews for every purchase they make.
  • 57% of consumers find reviews to be useful when evaluating products and services.
  • 83% of consumers say that reviews must be recent to be relevant.
  • 88% of all businesses monitor online reviews.
Review Management - Dental Industry Trend 2021

Some dentists don’t bother monitoring online reviews because they think if a patient has a problem, they’ll hear about it. But in today’s business world, you need to be vigilant about how you treat your patients, or else they will end up complaining online.

Having negative reviews can drive up to 22% of consumers away. 94% of consumers say that a negative online review has convinced them not to visit a business or service provider. There are no statistics available specific to dental practices, but it’s a safe bet that having negative online reviews could be driving patients to your competitors.

The same above survey found that 53% of consumers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews, and businesses that don’t respond to negative reviews experience an increase of 15% in customer turnover as a result. In 2022, dentists need to think not only about negative reviews but about how they’ll be perceived if patients see no response given to negative feedback online. 56% of consumers say that their views on a business have changed based on how the business responded or didn’t respond to reviews.

The takeaway here is that reviews matter and your engagement with those reviews during 2022 will impact the success of your dentistry business. Patients are leaving reviews for medical providers now more than ever before, and you can take advantage of that by monitoring your reviews.

For this reason, online review management for dentists is something that you need to include in your marketing strategy.

The bottom line: you should monitor your online reviews. Some of the most popular review sites are Google, Facebook, and Yelp. For dental reviews, you should also check out 1-800 Dentist, CareDash, and

You can even get ahead of the trend by getting in the habit of asking patients to review your practice when they check out after an appointment. Training your staff to ask this of patients can increase your positive reviews and help you monitor and improve patient satisfaction.

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3. The Rising Value of Convenience

We have seen a burgeoning movement to treat dental patients like consumers. It’s a recognition that in most cases, patients have many options when they choose healthcare providers. For that reason, we anticipate that 2022 will continue the trend toward prioritizing convenience for patients.

Today’s patients expect to access services around the clock, get help when they need it, and communicate directly with dentists. That's why convenience is one of several hot topics in dentistry and one of the latest trends in the dental industry.

Convenience in dentistry could mean any of the following things:

  • An online portal that allows patients to schedule appointments online, ask questions, and fill out intake paperwork at their leisure.
  • Expanded office hours to allow patients to come in at the times that work best for them, including early mornings, evenings, and weekends.
  • Allowing patients to pay online or from their mobile devices.
  • Adding additional services to give patients an all-in-one stop for their dental and oral health care needs.

We recognize that convenience for patients may come at the expense of convenience for you, but the reality is that there’s a reason that convenience is one of the ongoing trends in dentistry. Your competitors are likely addressing convenience as the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and you’ll need to do the same if you want to keep up.

Some of the keys to providing convenience include call tracking and website maintenance because both of these things empower patients to manage their dental health.

4. The Continued Use of 3D Printing in Dentistry

Not only is 3D printing still on the rise in the dental industry, but it’s also up and coming in technological sectors and the business world alike.

2021 saw an increase in the use of 3D printing by dentists and that’s a dental industry trend we expect to continue throughout 2022. 3D printing uses innovative materials such as resins, and also increases the speeds of creation for custom dentures, crowns, and more. With 3D printing, these can now be made in minutes instead of in days or weeks.

While 3D printing has been around for years, possible applications are still coming to light in the dental industry. What started as a lab tool has blossomed into something that can be used in all aspects of general dentistry, implantology, prosthodontics, and even to create custom devices to help patients with sleep apnea.

As of 2021, 3D printing was responsible for over three billion dollars of revenue in the dental industry. That number is expected to quadruple by 2028.

When it comes to 3D printing, a resin is commonly used in dental practices because it:

  • Provides an excellent finish with the capability to produce the fine feature details that are required for dental devices
  • Has the potential to be used for both short-term and long-term dental solutions

If you don’t have a 3D printer in your practice, now may be the time to think about investing in one. Before long, dental patients will expect quick delivery of prosthetics made with 3D printers and you’ll be better served once you embrace this technology in your dental practice.

Dental Social Media Marketing

5. Staying on Top of Changes in Social Media

Dentists are not the only professionals seeing a downturn in their social media marketing results. Changes are continually made to several social media platforms causing businesses to suffer the consequences. Looking ahead, many dentists are still trying to recover from those changes. With Facebook, for example, focusing on family and friends instead of advertising and news, your business may not get the online traffic it once did.

On top of that, some people are feeling overloaded by social media and have either reduced their use of it or deleted their accounts altogether as a “detox.” The only two social media platforms that showed significant growth in 2021 are YouTube and Reddit. That means that the dental marketing trends in 2022 include warnings and tips about the best way to use social media.

Use Facebook the Right Way

The biggest and most persistent change that continues for dental professionals is that if you want your posts to be seen, you’ll need to pay to boost them. You can still maximize your reach on Facebook by taking some time to analyze the performance of your past posts and figure out who your target market is. Choosing the right content to boost along with the right days and times to boost it, can help you make the most of your Facebook marketing budget going forward.

Take Advantage of Stories

More and more dental practices are using Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories to connect with their target audiences. So-called ephemeral content is useful for marketing because it encourages current and prospective patients to engage with your content as quickly as possible since it won’t be around forever.

Social media stories can be used to announce changes in your practice, promote new technology, or provide information about you and your staff.

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6. Optimize for Voice Search

The dental industry is quick to embrace technology when it can be used in treatments – 3D printers are an example – but the dental industry can also be notoriously slow in staying on top of digital trends. One of the most important ongoing trends in dentistry in 2022 is continuing to optimize for voice search.

Research shows that more than 50% of all searches are voice searches as of 2020. They also reveal that 70% of consumers prefer to search using their voices over any other search method. At the end of 2021, it was projected that three-quarters of all US households would own at least one smart speaker. This means that dentists must embrace voice search and find ways to optimize for it.

Some of the key things you can do to get your website voice search ready include:

  • Focus on natural-sounding language
  • Assume that most queries will be questions
  • Optimize for long-tail keywords, including questions
  • Answer questions clearly and concisely on your website
  • Think about user intent and provide the best user experience possible

Remember that web users can be impatient. When they ask a question, they expect to find the answer quickly and easily. If your site doesn’t provide the answers, they’ll move on to one of your competitors’ sites.

7. Personalized Content

Personalization is a big trend in marketing in general and it’s particularly important in healthcare marketing. According to Piesync:

"Marketing personalization means interacting with your audience and customers in a way that feels personal and human, taking into consideration their likes, preferences, and interests."

There are few “products” that people feel more of a personal connection to than healthcare, so it’s not surprising that dental practices are embracing both automation and the personalization options that come with it.

Personalization can take many different forms. You might personalize content by:

  • Using subscribers’ first names in email greetings
  • Allowing visitors to your website to choose the content (another term for this is adaptive content)
  • Targeting potential patients with specific ads based on their behavior on your website or their location, age, or past visits
  • Creating groups on Facebook and sharing targeted content that’s tailored to the preferences of the group’s members

The more your target audience feels that you understand their needs when it comes to dental care, the more likely they are to choose your practice the next time they need a dentist.

8. Focus on the Patient Experience

Patient Experience - Dental trends

Personalization isn’t the only way to make your patients feel special. Even though there is a need to fill dental health gaps in North America, dental competition can be fierce. Overcrowding and population issues in certain areas mean that dentists must see many patients in a day. With the knowledge that consumers are particular about which health care providers they choose, some dental practices are becoming hyper-focused on creating a special experience for their patients to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Offering spa services is one way to pamper your patients and make them feel valued. This was a trend going into 2021 and we expect that to continue. It might seem odd to think of a visit to the dentist as being luxurious, but there’s a growing trend toward things such as concierge service and massages to make patients feel comfortable.

You may also decide to try some of the following ideas to help patients look forward to visiting your practice.

  • Add video content in your waiting area, including a mix of entertainment and educational content for patients of all ages.
  • Allow patients extra time with their dentist to talk about their dental history, treatment, and future, at an additional cost. (This option could be part of a larger concierge service package that you offer to patients).
  • Create a system to contact patients when you are running behind. This can improve their experience by minimizing their time in your waiting room.

These are just a few examples to consider. The key is to find ways to make your practice stand out from others in your area. The additional services and perks you offer should be tailored to your patients. For example, a family dentist might focus on making the waiting area kid-friendly and providing services to help parents prioritize their kids’ oral hygiene.

Offering luxury services can help you increase patient loyalty and attract patients who are willing to spend money on optional cosmetic treatments.

9. Emotional Dentistry

A lot of dental marketing ideas focuses on patients' smiles, and for good reason. We are emotionally attached to our smiles. When we don't like the way our teeth look, we tend to be less expressive and less likely to smile.

That brings us to one of the most intriguing dental industry trends which continues to grow in importance. New technology is making it possible for dentists to engage in emotional dentistry, where patients whose teeth need to be repaired can, with the help of software, visualize their smiles as they will be after dental treatments are completed.

Emotional dentistry helps to improve the patient experience. Dentists who specialize in cosmetic dentistry, emergency dentistry, and orthodontics are the most likely to benefit from investing in emotional dentistry. When used properly, it can help calm patients' nerves and make the process of receiving dental care less intimidating than it would be otherwise.

10. Laser Technology

One of the most exciting patient care trends in the dental industry is the rise of laser technology. Before laser dentistry, routine dental care such as filling cavities and repairing damaged gums required invasive and often painful treatment. The potential of experiencing pain is a deterrent to patients who are nervous about visiting the dentist and can cause them to delay care.

Laser dentistry is in a period of intense growth that is expected to continue for several years. According to an article in BioSpace, the laser dental industry is projected to reach $345.1 million in 2028. The most used laser technology is the diode laser, which is a portable and cost-efficient option for minimally invasive oral surgery.

Technologies are best when they address problems that can hold dental practices back, and laser technology is no exception. Laser dentistry can eliminate cavities with little or no pain. It can also kill bacteria in the cavity, making it less likely that a patient will experience complications because of tooth decay.

The advantages of laser dentistry inpatient care are:

  • Decreased need for sutures
  • Less bleeding
  • Little to no pain
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Faster healing

If your practice uses laser dentistry for routine procedures, you should mention it on your website and in your social media marketing. This is an especially good tactic if you want to attract new patients since the promise of painless dental treatments can help reluctant patients get over their fear of going to the dentist.

11. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) use is on the rise in nearly every industry, and it’s one of the dental industry trends we expect to see in 2022 and beyond. While there are certainly some concerns about using AI with patient treatment, when implemented properly, it improves the patient experience. It can also help your dental practice provide top-notch patient service around the clock.

Patient interactions aren't the only potential use for artificial intelligence in your dental practice. It can also be used for things such as diagnostics, virtual dental assistants, and even smart toothbrushes, which can give a dentist information about their patients' oral hygiene habits and point in the direction of potential treatments.

If you decide to incorporate artificial intelligence into treatment and the patient experience, you’ll need to prioritize HIPAA compliance, ensuring that you educate both existing and new patients about how you intend to protect their privacy when using artificial intelligence in your practice. We expect to see the dental industry continue to embrace artificial intelligence in 2022 and beyond.

12. Telehealth and Live Video

One dental trend that has been most useful during the COVID-19 pandemic is telehealth. Dentists and other healthcare providers have turned to technology to help them interact with patients when the patient cannot safely see the dentist in person.

The increase in teledentistry thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the ADA to issue a complete policy on both teledentistry and live video. If you decide to see patients virtually, it’s your responsibility to provide a consistent level of care, properly document procedures, and protect patients' privacy by using HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software.

Compared to other trends in dental industry technology, there’s a limit to what you can do with teledentistry. For obvious reasons, you can’t provide direct care remotely. You can, however, offer consultations, offer self-care advice, and ascertain whether an in-person visit for treatment might be necessary.

Telehealth can be useful for evaluating new patients and minimizing the time that they spend in your office.

13. Nontraditional Diversified Services

While dental hygiene and dental treatments are still and will remain the primary focus of most dental practices, there’s a dental industry trend toward offering nontraditional diversified services to patients. Some examples include Botox and dermal fillers to smooth wrinkles, and even small stitches to tighten skin.

As many as 18% to 20% of all dentists in the United States may have received some training in these nontraditional cosmetic procedures, but they’re not a good fit for every practice. If you specialize in family dentistry, for example, your cosmetic offerings might begin and end with tooth whitening.

However, dental practices that offer a wide range of cosmetic dentistry procedures might find nontraditional services to be one of the most appealing trends in dentistry. Also, it’s something that could mesh well with personalized and concierge services.

14. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a dental industry trend that offers a new way to connect with patients on social media. A social media influencer is someone with a large following who, in return for payment, will mention and recommend your practice to their followers.

Here are some facts and figures to help you see the potential you could unlock with influencer marketing:

  • 48% of all businesses have used influencer marketing.
  • 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations when searching for products or services.
  • Influencer marketing has a fantastic ROI, with the average campaign earning $5.78 for each dollar spent.
  • The influencer marketing sector is expected to reach $13.8 billion in 2022.
  • 57% of all beauty and health brands use influencer marketing.

The key to using influencer marketing effectively is to know which influencers are suited to speak to your target audience. In general, you should look for influencers who are knowledgeable about dentistry, and who have a high degree of likeability and trust with their followers.

15. Text Message Marketing

Text marketing was one of our dental industry trends for 2022 and it continues to be popular thanks to its convenience and high ROI. Text messages are far more likely to be opened than emails, with 90% of smartphone users reporting that they open texts within 90 seconds of receiving them.

One of the dental industry trends that we suggest you implement is using text messaging to send appointment reminders. 80% of patients say they prefer to confirm appointments via text but only about 20% of businesses do so. The same is true of promotions, which only 17% of businesses do via text message.

Considering that one of the biggest headaches for dentists is canceled or missed appointments, it’s surprising that more practices haven't adopted SMS marketing. You can capitalize on this dental industry trend by:

  • Collecting mobile numbers from new and existing patients.
  • Adding a field on your intake form to allow new patients to opt-in for text messaging.
  • Implementing appointment confirmations and reminders via SMS messaging.

New services such as Switchbird allow you to build your text list and let patients and potential patients text you. You can also set up a chatbot to answer their most frequently asked questions.

Considering the number of dental patients and dental practices that rely on technology, it’s surprising that more dentists aren't incorporating text messaging into their digital marketing strategies.

16. Dental Group Practices

The average dental school graduate carries $304,824 in student loan debt. That’s a huge dollar amount and a huge burden. It’s also a clear indication of why group practices are one of the latest trends in dentistry.

It’s expensive for new or established dentists to open a dental practice. Commercial rent prices are always high, and it can be out of reach for an individual dentist to afford to pay rent, buy and maintain equipment, and pay their staff.

That’s where group dentistry comes in as an ongoing dental trend. By banding together with other dentists, it’s more affordable to open a practice, attract new patients, and maintain an attractive and welcoming dental office that is equipped with the latest technology.

If you are considering selling, or purchasing a dental practice, be sure to read our blog post: Dental Practice Transitions: A Guide for Successful Dental Office Transitions.

17. Going Green - Natural Dental Products

Dentists and other healthcare professionals are as concerned about the environment as anybody else. One of the dental trends that gained momentum in 2021 and is expected to continue throughout 2022 and beyond is green dentistry. Green dentistry is the use of natural products that have a minimal impact on the environment.

The ADA has created a list of ways that dentists can make their practices more environmentally friendly. They include:

  • Using organic or environmentally friendly scrubs
  • Reducing or eliminating the use of aerosols
  • Designing practice layouts to maximize natural light and ventilation
  • Using eco-friendly sterilization products and procedures
  • Using natural cleaning products in the office
  • Stocking all-natural oral care products and encouraging patients to use them

A lot of patients, particularly those who are Millennials or in Generations Y or Z, are likely to prioritize businesses that align with their beliefs. Making your practice green can help you attract new dental patients to your dental office.

18. Augmented & Virtual Reality

Many adult and young patients dread a visit to the dental office. As dentists, you naturally want to create a soothing and welcoming atmosphere for all patients, particularly those who are anxious.

One of the dental trends that can help with the issue of patient anxiety is the use of augmented or virtual reality. Research indicates that using VR can reduce pain and anxiety in patients. In some cases, it may even eliminate the need for pain medication or sedation.

Just as some dentists have found that offering sedation dentistry is a good way to attract patients who might have anxiety related to dental care, virtual reality can be a tool to help patients overcome their fears and engage in better oral hygiene.

19. Patient Support Chatbots

It wasn't that long ago that chatbots seemed as futuristic as flying cars. As we continue with 2022, estimates are that between 75% and 90% of all healthcare queries will happen without a human agent by the end of the year. 40% of consumers are willing to use a chatbot to get quick service in an emergency.

Many dentists have been slow to use chatbots because of concerns over patient privacy and HIPAA regulations. However, technology has kept up with the demands and it’s now possible for dentists to launch a dental chatbot while still preserving their patients' privacy. Experts believe that the healthcare chatbot market will be worth more than $967.7 million by 2027.

Chatbots can be used by dentists in a variety of ways, including:

  • Appointment scheduling and cancellations
  • Symptom reporting and early diagnostics
  • Medication assistance
  • Oral health guidance

Chatbots may be installed on your website and some patient portals come with chatbots included. You may also want to include a chatbot on your social media sites, especially on Facebook where Messaging continues to play an important role in patient support. They provide a safe way to enhance dental care and provide a quality patient experience. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that any chatbot you use is HIPAA compliant.

20. Emergence of Dentistry Apps

You already know that your dental website is the hub of your online presence, and no trends can change that. However, consumers increasingly expect the businesses they frequent -- including dentists -- to incorporate mobile apps into their digital marketing.

There are many reasons to create a mobile app for your patients. The app can help you:

  • Provide information about oral health and dental care to your patients.
  • Offer loyalty programs that incentivize patients to try new services or refer their friends to you.
  • Inform your patients about new technology, including 3D printers and laser technology, that can help them receive better care.
  • Streamline the process of booking appointments or rescheduling.
  • Provide better overall service to new and long-term patients.
  • Keep patients in the know about trends and other information that may be useful.

Creating a mobile app can help you connect with patients between visits, provide better care in and out of the office, and create an experience that is convenient to your patients' needs.

21. Explosion of User-Generated Content

One of the biggest ongoing trends for social media marketing is the explosion of user-generated content. User-generated content encourages your social media followers to share images and information about themselves related to your practice and services.

Here are some numbers to give you an idea of how impactful user-generated content can be.

  • 92% of people say they prefer referrals from people they know over any other source.
  • Consumers trust user-generated content 9.8 times as much as they do influencer content.
  • 79% of people say that their purchasing decisions are highly influenced by user-generated content.
  • 70% of user-generated content is created by Millennials.
  • Brand engagement increases by 28% when user-generated content is incorporated into the marketing mix.
  • Only 16% of brands have a strategy to incorporate user-generated content.

The numbers make the importance of user-generated content clear. You can encourage your patients to share before and after photos of themselves. This strategy is most effective with cosmetic dentistry since people are usually excited to share the results of whitening and straightening procedures.

22. Gamification

The use of gamification in education is growing and with good reason. There’s plenty of research showing that students who participate in gamified learning are more engaged and active than those who learn without gamification. While you might not think of your dental patients as students, they’re (or at least, they should be) students of oral hygiene.

A 2020 study examined the effect of gamification on the oral health and hygiene of children who used dental care mobile apps. The researchers concluded that gamification did lead to improvement in oral hygiene, although they noted that more research and app development would be required to fully capitalize on the potential of gamification.

The gamification market in the US was worth $9.1 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to grow to $30.7 billion by 2025. The opportunity for dental practices is clear. Creating an app that allows your patients to earn points and rewards for things like brushing their teeth, flossing, making a new appointment, and so on, can encourage good oral hygiene and increase patient retention.

The good news is that creating an app doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. Also, as we noted above, today’s patients expect businesses to have mobile apps, so incorporating gamification into your app is a smart move as we progress with 2022.

23. Social Responsibility Marketing Goes Mainstream

Another trend that has grown in importance since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is social responsibility marketing. Increasingly, consumers, particularly Millennials and younger generations, put a lot of emphasis on choosing brands that take a stand on social issues. The statistics support that conclusion: 77% of Millennials engage with their favorite brands on corporate social responsibility. Contrast that with the overall engagement rate of 53%.

Brands that do social responsibility marketing correctly choose issues that are relevant to both their brand and their audience. For example, Tom’s is a shoe company that donates one pair of shoes for every pair their customers buy.

Dental practices can do the same by highlighting the importance of getting vaccinated and, as noted above, using green products. Speaking out about an issue that affects the health and well-being of everyone in the world is something that dentists can do with great authority.

24. Growth of Geofencing

Geofencing uses mobile and GPS technology to push notifications, offers, and text messages to people based on their physical location and their proximity to a business. With smartphones and tablets now outpacing older mobile technology, it’s easier than ever to reach out to patients where they are – and specifically, when they are in your area.

Here are some marketing statistics that are relevant to the rise of geofencing.

  • Geofencing is compatible with 92% of all mobile devices.
  • 75% of people prefer to receive offers via text.
  • Response rates from texts are 209% higher than for phone calls.
  • Texts have a 99% open rate.
  • 81% of Android users opt in via push notification, while only 51% of iOS users do.

Geofencing can be useful for dental practices as a way of reminding people that they’re due for a cleaning or advising them of new services that you offer at your practice.

25. Inclusive Marketing Matters

Thanks to massive protests around racial injustice and police brutality, 2020 was a watershed year in the rise of inclusive marketing. People are eager to support diverse businesses, and here are some statistics to show why the rise in inclusive marketing has been so significant.

  • Searches for women-owned businesses on Yelp increased 264%.
  • Searches for Black-owned businesses increased by 3,085%.
  • Searches for Latinx-owned businesses increased by 4,077%.
  • Searches for Asian-owned businesses increased by 3,404%.

These increases were year-over-year as of March 2021, so there’s no denying that there’s astronomical growth in this area. According to Microsoft Advertising, 70% of Gen Z consumers prefer to do business with brands that use inclusive marketing. A Facebook survey revealed that 54% of users don’t feel culturally represented by advertising and 71% expect to be represented.

Even if your dental practice isn’t owned by a woman or person of color, you still need to think about inclusive marketing. That means choosing images that reflect the diversity of your patients and directing your marketing efforts at specific groups that are underserved in dentistry.

Challenges Experienced by Dental Practices

All dental practices face challenges, and running one is the biggest challenge of all. Of course, your primary concern is your patients' oral health, but you also need to think about managing your staff, staying up-to-date on changes in the dental profession, and dealing with insurance companies. It’s a lot for anybody to do, and it shines a light on the challenges facing every dental practice in 2022.

For dental practices in the United States to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace, they must provide top-notch care to their patients. That means not letting the issues they face get in the way of optimizing the patient experience to ensure that current patients keep coming back and new patients find their way to your door.

At Titan Web Agency, we work with dentists and healthcare professionals every day. We make it a priority to understand potential problems in the dental industry and how they impact our clients.

With that in mind, let's review some of the challenges that American dental practices are likely to face throughout 2022.

Insurance Billing Management

Insurance billing can be time-consuming, expensive, and take precious time away from providing health care to your patients, making it one of the largest issues that most dental practices face. Part of the problem is that most dental offices need to manage bills for multiple insurance carriers.

The challenge of insurance billing management can be overcome by:

  • Creating detailed claims processing guidelines.
  • Staying up-to-date with coding changes for dental procedures.
  • Collecting full copays from patients when they visit.
  • Creating detailed claims processing guidelines.

Dental practice management software can help you to manage insurance billing efficiently. Some dentists employ a dental billing specialist whose sole job is to manage insurance billing and claims.

Corporate Dentistry

Your practice needs to retain existing patients and attract new ones. The rise of corporate dentistry can make both jobs difficult as nationwide dental chains are making it more difficult for local dentists to stay afloat.

The dental profession has historically operated on a local basis, but new corporate business models provide a challenge to small providers. Here are some ways you can help your practice stand out against corporate competitors:

  • Use social media posts to underscore your local ties by connecting with people in your area.
  • Encourage patient reviews and collect testimonials to boost your online reputation.
  • Emphasize your ability to connect with people on a personal level.
  • Use word of mouth advertising to increase your dental practice name recognition in the community.

You may not be able to compete with corporate dentistry when it comes to prices, but you can offer a level of personalized service that they cannot.

Increased Operating Costs for Post-COVID Dentistry

Small business owners, including dentists, have suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While vaccines are now widely available, the emergence of new variants and ongoing vaccine resistance in some areas means that dental practices must continue to be vigilant.

Preliminary research indicates that people are likely to be warier about potential pandemics in the future than they were before COVID-19. For that reason, you need to be prepared to accept elevated operating costs as COVID-inspired sanitation and protection procedures become the norm.

To prepare for increased operating costs, you can:

  • Collect information about dental pricing in your area and prepare to raise your prices as needed.
  • Look for ways to reduce spending where possible.
  • Implement energy-saving procedures to reduce your utility bills.
  • Focus your marketing budget on retaining existing patients and attracting new patients to increase your profits.
  • Offer new services to attract high-value patients, such as cosmetic procedures or concierge services.

Reducing overhead can help you meet your growth goals even during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Proliferation of Offshore Dental Laboratories

Nearly every industry has had to cope with the availability of less expensive goods with overseas labor, and the dental industry is no exception. One of the cost-cutting trends in the dental industry is the proliferation of offshore dental laboratories.

As a practice owner, you need to balance your desire to support local and American businesses with the ability to reduce costs by partnering with offshore dental labs. It’s important to remember that you may get better service and more accurate products working with someone locally for needed laboratory services.

We suggest evaluating labs carefully and choosing the option that allows you to provide the best possible dental care to your patients.

Third-Party Dictation of Fees and Treatment Plans

Insurance billing isn't the only challenge dentists face from carriers. While this isn't exactly a trend, a lot of insurance providers get involved in dental care in the following ways.

  • Dictating fees and reimbursement percentages for procedures, including non-covered procedures.
  • Specifying treatment plans for certain conditions.
  • Limiting dentists' ability to pursue the courses of treatment they deem to be best for their patients.

There’s generally not much that dentists can do to impact the way that insurance carriers set prices and fee schedules. For example, it can be difficult for solo practitioners to negotiate with insurance companies, but there are negotiation and optimization companies that can negotiate on your behalf for more favorable rates.

The Key to Balancing Oral Health Care with Business Concerns

Operating a dental practice has its challenges, and the issue for most dentists is determining the best way to balance high-quality dental care with profitability. When patients visit the dentist, they expect X-rays and treatments for tooth decay combined with compassionate patient care and a high level of professionalism.

The current issues in dentistry we have identified here will help practice owners and others in the dental field keep up with the times, meet new problems as they arise, and stay on top of trends that can help them run a successful dental office.

Is Your Dental Practice Ready for 2022?

If you want to achieve your dental practice growth goals in 2022, using the 25 dental industry trends we have listed here will help you reach a wider audience and attract new patients.

Do you need help fine-tuning your marketing strategy for 2022? Titan Web Agency is here to help. We can help with local SEO to attract new patients as well as with content, social media marketing, and more. We'd love to hear from you!

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