The dental industry is roaring back from the pandemic induced shutdown, according to Planet DDS, a Newport Beach provider of cloud-based dental software.
Planet DDS has realized a 126% increase in its number of practice locations and a 55% increase in company revenue in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period last year.
Its milestones have included the acquisition of QSIDental from NextGen Healthcare Inc., the launch of Denticon Patient Engagement, and the creation of new roles across the company to meet aggressive growth targets.
A sign of investor excitement for the industry came in June when Planet DDS received a funding round led by Aquiline Capital Partners LLC, a New York-based private investment firm that praised Planet DDS’s “highly scalable platform.”
“It’s definitely rebounding,” Planet DDS Chief Executive Eric Giesecke told the Business Journal.
While dentistry still hasn’t recovered to the same levels as pre-COVID, there has been “a bunch of pent-up demand, particularly for nonemergency, preventative work.”
Even though COVID created a rise in teledentistry, it won’t replace in person visits, Giesecke said.
“It’s hard to replace an in-person diagnostic of a person’s mouth. Dentistry’s moved much more back to the office than people thought.”
The dental industry suffered during the height of the pandemic, when an estimated 95% of practices were shut down at one time.
In the 18 months since the start of the pandemic, about 5% of dental hygienists dropped out of the profession, citing health fears and low wages, according to an analysis by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the ADA Health Policy Institute.
Dentists are reporting higher weekly bookings in September compared to January. At the same time, they are struggling to keep dental hygienists. Dental costs in June rose 1.9%, the largest month change for those services ever recorded, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These factors are helping Planet DDS convince dental practices to use its services, Giesecke said. His company currently has about 10,000 to 15,000 dental practices with a goal of 25,000. Nationwide, there are an estimated 130,000 to 150,000 dental practices, he said.
“Instead of having one person at one office, that person can help in other offices as well,” he said. “Our solution allows us to make their workflows more efficiently, so they use less staff.”
Planet DDS’s current partners and customers include American Dental Partners, Dental Care Alliance and the U.S. Army and Navy.
Planet DDS’s growth has been spurred by acquisitions that have helped more than double both the company’s annual revenue rate to $45 million and an employee count around 300. It doesn’t have an imminent new acquisition, he said.
“We’re still looking at great opportunities that are complementary,” he said.