Private-Equity Firms Get Involved With Dentistry

Private-equity firms could soon be in the dental business.

The firms have been have been submitting bids for two of the largest chains of dental offices, including Aspen Dental and Kool Smiles. The bid for Aspen Dental, which is based in Syracuse, N.Y., could be more than $500 million. The bid for Kool Smiles is separate and could end up being more than the bid for Aspen Dental.

Aspen has around 300 offices. The company is working with the bank Moelis & Co.

Kool Smiles has about $80 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

This kind of sale is unique in the dental profession because most dentists work either by themselves or with one other dentist. It would be new ground for private-equity firms because they have not been involved in dentistry as much as other aspects of healthcare.

These firms think this is a good move now because there is still money to be made for them in the dental profession. Many parts of dental care are covered by insurance, with the exception being cosmetic and oral surgery. Dentists have not been as affected as doctors by the reforms in healthcare.

The move may not be good for the dentists who work in these chains, however, because the firms will try to maximize their profits. This means that the dentists may be working longer hours, something that could be counterproductive because it may come at the expense of good dental care.


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