There’s been some confusion about our predictions of 3000 dollar fees being the future of orthodontics and many see this as doom and gloom. Nothing could be further from the truth! Somehow we haven’t done a good job of explaining that along with lower fees we fully expect a 4-5 fold increase in the number of people seeking orthodontic treatment. This fact makes it clear that the future of orthodontics is truly bright for those who can comprehend what is going on and deliver what consumers want. It won’t be the same as it is now, it will be better. What we are currently doing as a profession in terms of price and volume is just not sustainable. Our goal in presenting these blogs is to get you, our colleagues, to take a moment and evaluate what you’re currently doing in practice.

Does this mean you should lower your fees today? Not unless you want or need to. Does this mean that there is 100 percent certainty that the average fee for orthodontic treatment will be 3000 dollars in 5 years? No! It’s our well researched opinion and we respect those who deny this scenario but feel that they have a responsibility to respond with a counter argument rather than just a knee-jerk emotional response.

So, if you listen to what we are advocating – overhead control, simplicity, giving consumers what they want, and avoiding groupthink, you’ll be in much better shape for increasing profit even if the price in your area doesn’t fall over the next five years. If our predictions are born out, you will be prepared to do extremely well while others struggle.

We don’t see the downside to our advice and can’t understand the obstinate, incensed response by some of you.

Marc Ackerman

Ben Burris

***The song quoted in the title of this blog is by the band Timbuk3

15 thoughts on “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

  1. I agree with the opinion that we need to gear up for volume business and able to accept reduced profit if we want to be on the top of the orthodontic food chain. In Australia, dentists are struggling compared to 10 years ago (when a new grad would go and get an Aston Martin!). Orthodontic suppliers will then be able to differentiate volume discounts significantly enough for dentists to avoid orthodontics.

  2. The 5 fold increase will be retreating all of the aligner, smile direct and DIY cases.

  3. Very clever! This is a common response from orthodontists and though it’s cute I’m not sure it’s helpful to you or anyone else.

  4. We need to see if Dr Profit will write a new textbook “Contemporary Aligner Re-treatment.” Maybe this will be helpful.
    We all know fixed is superior to removal in 90% of cases.

  5. Let me know how that works out for you long term.

  6. I have a good feeling it’s going to work out great. I already retreat aligner cases every week. Patients are usually happy to have found a solution to the over promised / under performed aligner therapy.
    Looking forward to retreating more GP / DIY aligner cases!

  7. That’s the beauty of this business. Everyone can pracrice as they see fit. Good luck to you. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. Well, in order for a doc to be able to treat a case for 3k and get a value, a doc has to know how to handle a value. Something like this is not taught in our residency programs. How many those running the programs you see who teach that mentality? The answer is none. Lets examine a typical residency. One or two full timers running research who i would not trust treating my kids. The are god with numbers but not good with reality. You have a few part timers, those usually “traditional” semi retired, not busy. What they could teach? How not to be busy? I like the question: “How much you charge per case? 3500 dollars, wow, you must be a looser, I charge 6K, I must be smart…” I call it “the bigger the better mentality” They are far from reality and what they could teach those kids? Same faulty ideas. How many orthos you have seen who can properly handle the value without compromising? Not a lot, at least in my experience. Changing the colors and asking every patient “What colors would you want today?” and giving the kids their “social six” should not cost 3k, it should cost much, much less. So there should be difference between social six price and decent results price. I agree, 3 k or even less, will be the norm but not many orthos could handle it properly.

  9. Damn dude. You get it. Refreshing. Well said.

  10. A few year ago I advised a state run ortho medicaid program and let me tell you an average failure rate of medicaid run ortho cases in every state: it is 70%. Alarming is not it. That is why nowadays, state gave it away to HMOs, let them deal with the issues. And the issue arises because of those ortho who cant handle low cost quantity. They are not efficient enough, lazy enough, and do not care and have lack of supervision. Thus you have 70% failure rate. How about this for board standards and quality? Imaging in medicine, to have 70% failure rate in a tx modality. I cant even imagine that. Cant forget one interview with I had not long time ago. So this guy from Texas came in for working interview with a few years of experience, i asked him how many patients did you see per day, he is 150 WOW! How many bondings ? 15 on average, amazing. So I asked him to bond a case, and you guessed it right, the poor guy could not! Turns out all were done by 10 assistants he had. My point, there is a very thin line between right and wrong when it comes to low cost ortho. I totally agree, cost should be low and even lower than 3k but we need to be careful not to fall into “social six” color game. That is the only solution how to protect the profession against being swallowed by DSOs. IMO

  11. Firstly ,background to provide context.I have practised a specialist for 34 yrs .and taught for over 20yrs.This is the only site I post on ,personally and professionally as I find it most interesting and I thank you for that !
    SOME POINTS:(regarding this and previous sets of comments)
    1—-Invisalign and other aligners are here to stay in an ever -increasing market share.You can treat with aligners to a very high and very acceptable standard.I have and more importantly have seen clinicians (more competent than I ) do so,in volume. The limiting factors are the clinicians ability to undergo further education and to adopt a flexibility of mindset.For those of our profession that do not wish to go this route ,I suggest (with all due deference ) a consideration of retirement or a career change.Feel free to leave the rest of us to to move forward in our service industry.
    2—-To suggest,as per previous post, that a viable practice can be supported by retreating all those nasty and badly -finished aligner cases is arrant nonsense and egotistical masturbation.
    3—-To question clinicians (anonomously) as per previous posts ,ability to finish cases to ABO standards is both discourteous and stupid.Such standards are an admirable GOAL –they should not be interpreted as an expected ,achievable end stage for each and every case .That is unless you wish to drive you ,your staff and your pts. crazy for no valid reason.

    Sometimes I see comments posted ,pertaining to the above,that cause my eyeballs to roll back so far that my retinas now face backwards(which may account for the need for some of my repos.)Seems to me that a significant number of our profession need to climb down from their pedestal and “get over” themselves.
    Thanks for allowing input !!!

  12. Great post. Been in private practice and academia. You nailed it!

  13. Andrew
    You too have a great mentality! We aren’t trying to make our colleagues out to be ignorant in the ways of the world but just want to disseminate our experiences (failures as much as successes) and predictions to help others brainstorm.
    Wish more people like you gave their honest take on things.


  14. Rally your troops! We retreat your cases everyday, and I do mean literally.

  15. Awesome. You work 7 days a week and do retreats every day?? Literally? Wow! Let me know where you practice and I’ll come visit so I can learn how to do things “properly”. Perhaps we can do an article in The Progressive Orthodontist Magazine on your awesome practice model? I just love when the orthodontists’ groupthink is acknowledged and even worn as a badge of honor. Thanks for sharing.

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