A Brief Look at ADA’s Annual Session in the Age of DSOs

Not long ago, there was a shortage of dental meetings focused on content for dental business owners looking to scale their practices, while providing the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals. In 2019, with its own dental meeting subculture, the DSO industry no longer has a shortage of dental group practice and DSO focused meetings to attend. There may be too many DSO and emerging group practice meetings now. But let’s hold that thought for another article.

Aside from DSO specific events, the dental industry has its own dental meeting inventory issue. For over a decade, people (mostly dental manufacturers and distributors) have complained about the overabundance of dental meetings in the US. These meetings range from relatively small state association or dental society meetings, to larger regional meeting such as Hinman and Greater New York, all the way up to the American Dental Association’s annual meeting. These meetings used to be a great source of dental education, networking and a place to find out about the latest and greatest dental products and services. With the advent of technology, specifically the internet, the need to be onsite to get continuing education credits, network and gain information regarding new dental products and services, is no longer necessary.

In general, attendance at most dental meetings has been in decline for the better part of a decade. Some vendors have decided to sit some of these meetings out or reduce their presence at various meetings. While attendance might not be what it used to be, organizers of these meetings have attempted to step up their game with better content, more networking, more exciting venues, creative strategies, and new ways to position themselves. However, when it comes to content for DSOs and emerging groups there is still a void with virtually nothing from a business perspective that is relevant to this growing segment of the dental industry.

Dale Sanford and Rupinder Kau of Mortenson Dental Partners at the 2019 ADA annual meeting

One of the larger dental industry meetings of the year, the ADA annual session, was held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on September 4th – 8th. This year’s ADA annual meeting seemed to be well attended. There are several different reasons for this:

  • Historically when the ADA has held their meetings in San Francisco they have been very well attended.
  • The California Dental Association typically holds their CDA North event in San Francisco every year, but when the ADA has their meeting in San Francisco, CDA does not hold their CDA North meeting.
  • This year the ADA has teamed up with the FDI World Dental Federation, a global federation of national dental associations and organizations. This year’s ADA meeting will be a combined meeting of both the ADA and the FDI World Dental Congress.

While the ADA/FDI World Dental Congress does not have DSO or emerging dental group-specific content and education, there are still some options from a business and continuing education standpoint. The meeting has sessions focused on digital dentistry, sleep medicine, cariology, dental assisting, hygiene, dental specialties, digital workflow, head and neck cancer, occlusion, oral medicine, restorative, team building, wellness and much more.

Linda Ryan, a dentist recruiter from Pacific Dental Services, at their booth at the 2019 ADA annual meeting

Founded in 1900, the FDI World Dental Federation is headquartered in Switzerland and serves as the principal representative body for more than 1 million dentists worldwide. The FDI works on developing health policy and continuing education programs, speaking as a unified voice for dentistry in international advocacy, and supporting member associations in global oral health promotion activities. FDI’s membership comprises approximately 200 national member dental associations and specialist groups in some 130 countries. It is in official relations with the World Health Organization and a member of the World Health Professions Alliance.

Dr. Sepand Hokmabadi, CEO & Founder of Total Health Dental Care, at the 2019 ADA annual meeting

Unlike other dental meetings, this year there were very few DSOs and dental group practices exhibiting at the ADA annual session. This is partly due to the meeting being held in San Francisco where fewer DSOs and groups have a footprint.

The dental group practices and dental support organizations which exhibited at ADA this year:

Heartland Dental –  Both #545
Mortenson Dental Partners – Booth #3410
Pacific Dental Services – Booth #5687
Signature Dental Partners – Booth #5504
Straine – Booth #2134
Willamette Dental Group – Booth #334

It will be very interesting to watch what organizations like the ADA do to remain relevant as the dental industry continues to consolidate, and the dental support organization and group practice business models continue to grow. Their organizations need to evolve as well as their meetings.

It was great seeing many of you at the ADA FDI World Dental Congress in San Francisco and I look forward to seeing more of our audience at the DentalForum USA, ADSO’s Partnering For Growth, My Social Practice’s Dental Digital Marketing Conference, The Evolution of Dental Medicine Summit, Carestream Dental’s Global Oral Health Summit and the Greater New York Meeting.

Bill Neumann
CEO, Group Dentistry Now

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