There’s more than drilling and filling going on in the dentist’s office these days. Sophisticated imaging systems, lasers and computer-assisted treatment devices sit next to the dentist’s chair, and all that technology makes the dental market a tempting target for ambitious servicers. Problem is, the politics of this market are discouraging enough to leave you looking down in the mouth.

imageDental equipment service and repair is as rewarding as a bright shiny smile, but the politics of this game potentially can be as painful as a root canal without novocaine. Any BMET who contemplates entering this field should learn the terrain to avoid falling into deep cavities.

From the 30,000 foot view, the dental service realm can be divided into three regions where support can be provided to practitioners, according to Daniel Wolf, managing director of Dewar Sloan (Traverse City, Mich.). There are 112,000 dental practices in the United States, most own or lease equipment, so opportunities abound.

The first region of service supports the selection process that precedes installation of equipment.

“That’s often neglected in biomedical equipment in general, and certainly in higher technology equipment across the board,” said Wolf.

A service provider with the ability to advise dentists about the best and most cost effective equipment is prepared to offer valuable economic assistance. Wolf believes there is a role for independent practice management consultants who can provide objective information.

The second region of service includes routine maintenance, support and repair of equipment. In dentistry, that can range from basic electromechanical devices to very sophisticated electronic systems and peripherals. Typically a dental operatory contains chairs with hydraulic lifts, sterilizers, X-ray equipment and handpieces used for drilling and cleaning. Some practices employ sophisticated intra-oral camera systems, digital X-ray systems and computer-aided chairside crown fabricators for restorative procedures.

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