A Big Win for DSOs as Virginia-Based Light Wave Dental Enters North Carolina Market

Light Wave Dental Management, a dental support organization (DSO) in Virginia with 23 locations, just announced that it has entered North Carolina by forming a long-term management arrangement with CarolinasDentist, a high-growth dental group based in Fayetteville, North Carolina with 7 locations. The arrangement completed the North Carolina Dental Board review process in July and the companies began operating together in early August*.

With strong financial backing from Alpine Investors, a private equity firm with a unique PeopleFirst approach, Virginia-based Light Wave and North Carolina-based CarolinasDentist are committed to transforming the dental group practice model through a unique management company that is part owned by private equity and part owned by the dentists themselves, creating alignment between the interests of the dentists and investors.

Light Wave has grown from 8 to 23 affiliate locations in Virginia over 24 months. Light Wave is helping to solve big problems in dentistry: retirement, management, reimbursements, and ownership by providing the benefits of a group while preserving the essence of private practice.

“The dental industry is undergoing a wave of rapid change and many dentists find themselves between a rock and a hard place. With all the change in the dental industry, many dentists are left wondering… is there a safe place to land? Our answer is yes, that safe landing place is now available with Light Wave and CarolinasDentist.” – Justin Jory, Founder & CEO, Light Wave Dental Management

CarolinasDentist’s purpose is to build the dental group of choice for the Carolinas with beautiful offices, great teams, and cutting-edge technology while offering an ownership and investment structure built for leader dentists. “We are excited to be working with Justin and Light Wave to help us move into our next chapter,” said Clifton Cameron, D.D.S., Founder and CEO of CarolinasDentist. “We built our own high quality, high growth dental group, founded on leadership development, and saw the opportunity to offer a better solution for high quality dentists throughout North Carolina. We canvassed the market and found perfect alignment with Alpine Investors and Light Wave Dental to help us make that happen.”

“I’m thrilled to be affiliating with CarolinasDentist, they have great leadership and such a great culture,” said Justin Jory. “Together, with Alpine’s support, we are building a platform that will optimize outcomes for doctors and patients alike. Together we have so much to offer to dentists, this is just the first step into an exciting future for group dentistry in North Carolina.”

Light Wave hasn’t wasted any time in North Carolina. It just acquired Pleasant Plains Dental with tremendous room for expansion in Indian Town with the support of a leading American M&A advisory firm in the medical industry, Viper Equity Partners, who represented the seller.

Tree Line Capital Partners, LLC acted as Agent and Lead Arranger on the transaction which included Monroe Capital. Tree Line supported the initial platform acquisition by Alpine in 2016 and has continued to provide acquisition financing solutions to Light Wave. Frank Cupido, Partner of Tree Line, said, “We’re pleased to have meaningfully increased our existing loan with Light Wave and for the continued partnership with Alpine. The Light Wave team has built a best in class model in the DSO space through careful platform construction and we are excited to have the opportunity to facilitate further growth. Tree Line has delivered Light Wave a financing solution that we expect to be able to provide significantly more financing capacity for Light Wave’s subsequent affiliations in the coming years.”

Light Wave was advised by Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis, and CarolinasDentist was advised by the Eskow Law Group and MORR Dental Transitions in the transaction.

*Publisher’s note: This partnership is a particularly noteworthy win for DSOs considering that North Carolina is not considered to be a DSO-friendly state. Their Dental Board is mostly made up of licensed dentists, who up until very recently, sought to limit competition claiming it was for public safety reasons. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) challenged that claim.

According to TheHill.com, “In 2015, the United States Supreme Court ultimately ruled that a licensing board made up of ‘active market participants’ must have active state supervision or a clear legislative directive when undertaking anti-competitive action. The Court notes that failing to do so will otherwise create an environment fa­voring some market participants over their competitors. Thus, in this case, the Supreme Court supported lower court decisions that the NC Board of Dental Examiners unreasonably restrained trade in violation of the federal antitrust laws.”

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