What does the future hold for dentistry?

Alun Rees predicts the future of dentistryThe ability to adapt quickly is the only way dentists can remain successful in the future, Alun Rees says.

Nils Bohr, Nobel Prize winning physicist, philosopher and Olympic footballer (like Albert Camus he was a goalkeeper) said: ‘It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.’

That statement came back to me when I was reading yet another article about Dentistry’s next ten years.

I realised the post contained a thinly veiled promotion for somebody selling their services.

However, I do not intend to tell you what to do for the next decade, because I don’t know.

I could tell you which horse will win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March 2025.

But the chances are I would be wrong about that too.

I would have more chance of picking the jockey or the trainer.

But do not suggest you risk your money just yet.

Disruptive innovation

What I do know is that the practice of dentistry will be more different than we can predict with any degree of certainty.

Clayton Christensen, who died in late January, was famous for his theory of disruptive innovation.

His insight, to quote The Economist’s tribute, was: ‘It is not stupidity that prevents firms from foreseeing disruption but rather their supreme rationality.’

I often quote Christensen’s work, when lecturing and working with clients; in an attempt to encourage people to look beyond the status quo and to acknowledge that what they pick up in dental school is best practice at the time.

What will work in the future is at best a guess.

But success relies upon always looking over the horizon.

Being aware of evolution in scientific knowledge and understanding trends in health and wellness.

If there is one essential trait it is agility; being able to adapt quickly and implement change will differentiate the successful from the also rans.

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