Dentist Dropoff Leaves a Cavity

Fewer new grads, more real teeth mean spiking costs could drill consumers
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2009 1:06 PM CDT
Dentist Dropoff Leaves a Cavity
A dental visit.   (AP Photo)

The number of dentists graduating from dental school is plummeting just as the first generation of Americans with their full set of real teeth hit their golden years. And those graduates are much more likely now than in the past to be specialists in things like orthodontics and oral surgery. And did June Thomas, writing on Slate, mention that tooth doctors are also working fewer hours? All in all, it’s a recipe for a toothache…

…that will hurt your pocketbook more than your pearly whites. The uncomfortable situation is understandable: There are no teaching hospitals for dentists, which makes training costly and has led to the closure of schools. Many more dentists are women—some with young children—which has led to the falloff in hours worked. But the sad fact is the supply of dentists can’t keep up with the population. “When supply decreases or demand increases, prices go up,” Thomas writes. “When both occur at once, prices go up a lot.” (More dentistry stories.)

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