It’s the dentist/population ratio in your area. This is the number of dentists serving the number of humans in any particular area. The national average in the U.S. is 1,650 humans per dentist. But the national average doesn’t mean much for any particular dentist.
However, the ratio in the area around your practice means a great deal.
Here’s why this ratio is so important:
A dental practice needs 700 patient files to support a 32-hour work week. In Santa Barbara, CA the dentist/population ratio is 323 humans for each dentist. So even if a dentist got ALL of his or her “fair share” of 323 patients, they would still only have about half a practice.
Likewise, in South Orange County, CA the ratio is about 1:450. In fact, the ratio is very unfavorable to the dentist in just about any coastal area or any large urban area in the U.S.
Contrast this with a dental practice in just about any rural or suburban practice in the Midwest (and other selected areas of the country) where the dentist to population ratio can be as high as one dentist for every 6,000 people.
There are at least 2 takeaways from this information:
- If you’re considering opening a new practice or relocating an existing practice, always investigate the dentist/population ratio before you make your decision.
- If you already have a practice in an area with an unfavorable dentist/population ratio and you don’t want to (or can’t) relocate, you can at least know what you’re up against and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Next tip: Can a practice in a lousy dentist/population ratio area ever succeed?