Exploring DSOs Worldwide: A Global Perspective on Challenges and Best Practices 

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In today’s ever-evolving world of oral care, the pursuit of excellent service delivery knows no borders. Turning to international best practices for inspiration on your quest for innovation, efficiency, and customer satisfaction is a guaranteed way to be at the forefront of dentistry. For DSO groups and dentists, this approach has proven to be not just a strategic advantage, but a necessity. Through a series of interviews with global industry experts, this article examines similarities, differences, challenges, and best practices from your peers around the world. Cross-border insights play a vital role in reshaping and revitalizing the dental industry; illuminating the path toward providing exceptional customer-centric practices.

The Global Growth of DSOs

One thing is clear: DSO growth is on an upward trajectory in every market. The DSO model has the ability and backing to negotiate on operational costs, manage staff, compliance issues, and quickly roll out new technology. This model is very attractive to dentists who want to grow their business and have less hassle doing so. It provides strategic non-clinical support that removes the burden of needing to run a business AND practice dentistry at the same time. In Italy particularly, around 1,000 young dentists graduate every year. However, only a few can immediately open private practice because of the financial burden it requires. Working for DSO practices gives them the economic power and opportunity to start practicing without the need to scale a business at the same time. Additionally, a sentiment echoed globally is that many older dentists are selling their existing practice to a DSO, since there is no successor owner awaiting and less interest in investment from the younger practitioners right out of school.


One of the main challenges facing DSOs in every market is that of talent recruitment. With so much rapid expansion, it is unsurprising that growth does not always lead to the best work culture. Sometimes, with large-scale clinics, it becomes even more difficult for dentists to have any sort of autonomy. There can be many different layers of red tape to get something fixed or to implement new materials, which hinders the growth and innovation of the practice. A solution out of the United Kingdom centers on ensuring your DSO is a place where new talent wants to work, especially as it pertains to education. DSOs are a great way for new dentists to learn how a dental practice works and how to deal with patient needs, expectations, and the best ways to dialogue with them. By providing learning opportunities and support to younger dentists, they become more successful; thus, the DSO becomes more successful. Many practices in European countries are learning to market the flexibility that working for a DSO can provide – which is highly appreciated by the younger generations of workers worldwide. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for recruitment, but by being and marketing yourself as a desirable workplace that offers the latest technology and education, you can mitigate some of the gaps.

Location, Modernization, and Patient Comfort

The location of any practice makes a big difference. Of course, there is a need for oral health care everywhere in the world, but not every location is ideal for a DSO practice. When it comes to attracting new patients, Europe and America have seen success in having practices in high-traffic areas, such as malls, inside other retailers, and shopping districts in the cities. Location is also something to consider for attracting talent. It is imperative to have practices in areas where employees want to work, live and grow their families. Furthermore, patients are more aware than ever before that they have choice when it comes to healthcare providers and may be willing to travel to receive the type of in- office experience they want. A beautiful, centralized practice also attracts new patients who may be willing to spend out-of-pocket for multiple treatments. Additionally, cultivating a relaxing environment equipped with the latest technology and treatment options is imperative for patient comfort and satisfaction. Many practices in North America have started implementing service animals in office to help calm anxious patients of all ages. Don’t forget to consider cultural and social norms that might be prevalent to your customers. Customers may want to know what your individual practice supports or has taken into consideration – which might not apply to the entire DSO group depending on the variety of locations offered. The importance of cultural sensitivity and patient-centred care cannot be overstated.

“My advice is that we as healthcare professionals always need to be prepared for the innovations and technologies that the market brings us to make our professional lives and patient care easier, providing ease and comfort for them in the clinic, so studying and becoming professional is always the path.” – Dra Caroline Wendramin, Executive Director of OXCO franchise in Brazil.

Evaluating Staff and Structure 

A best practice out of Asia Pacific centers around evaluating whom they are hiring for what. They recommend ensuring the right balance of high-performing, high-pay experts on full-time staff vs lower salary and mid-level staff to balance costs and improve performance during downtimes. Italy echoed this by saying their DSOs have introduced new professional roles such as “treatment manager” or “treatment coach” that allow for a balance of experienced leadership and clinicians who work directly with the patients. Sometimes, DSOs even hire experienced dentists and freelance experts. More so, don’t be afraid of technology, a topic many DSOs in North America have been at the forefront of implementing. DSOs enable dental professionals to leverage advanced technologies and unlock growth potential–through administrative efficiency and increased patient experience. Overall, consider what gaps it can fill for your practices, how it can speed up work, and where it can increase patient comfort.

Marketing & The Educated Patient  

The Asia Pacific market has seen a huge amount of growth due to marketing promotions and patient education programs given by DSOs. More people are learning about the importance of oral healthcare and the benefits of investing in their smiles. Globally, social media and the internet not only allow for practices to reach more potential clients, but to present themselves in an exciting, modern way. Additionally, patients are becoming more informed, do more research, and have higher demands in today’s world. Patients want more face time with dentists, more flexible and convenient scheduling, less waiting times, affordable care, access to state-of-the-art equipment and innovative processes that DSOs provide. Aligning your marketing with an education strategy and value proposition to ensure potential customers know why your practice and treatments are the best for them is a great way to grow your DSO.

Leading the way together 

Having 100 years of international experience in the dental industry makes Ivoclar an ideal strategic partner for your DSO. More than products, Ivoclar offers full-circle support, including education, marketing, after-sales service, support, and more.  Our team of international experts are available to support your DSO, no matter where in the world you are located. Together, we will work to deliver best-in-class, best-in-service treatments to your patients, now and into the future.

Contact an Ivoclar representative
today for more information!