Dentists Dread Universal Dental Care

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national dental careA third of dentists expect the US to attempt national dental care by 2012; another third think it will never happen.

"Do Americans want to have teeth like the English?" asked one dentist.


But 74% agree it’s a terrible idea; in fact, only 2% think it’s a good idea.

How to ruin our dental care system

  • “National Dental Care along with provider requirements, restrictions and limitations would destroy what now is the best care in the world.” (Maryland dentist)
  • “Nationalized dental/medical care is just another word for rationed low-quality care.” (California dentist)
  • “I would much rather we as a profession keep working on the problem. This is one of the only real patient/doctor relationships left, and it is being threatened by insurance and big business.” (Texas dentist)
  • “The only way to bring about true universal health/dental care is to enslave the providers, or the population or both. Personally, I will do great; I've been in the Army and I know exactly how to get superior marks – lie.” (Georgia dentist)

Give it a chance

  • “We need something. Leaning toward a two-tiered system, a la Great Britain, but am open to any and all ideas. Just don't want the government running the entire show. Not sure how that can be avoided.” (Michigan dentist)

Consider what we've already tried

  • “Pilot programs are already implemented and can be analyzed for their value. Check out Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans' Administration, Canada, and others. Doing the same thing and expecting different results for everyone? Will our Executive, Judicial & Legislative electorate be on the same plan?” (Kansas dentist)
  • "We have already had a government-run dental system for years — it's called Medicaid — and it doesn't work." (California dentist)

Bureaucratic nightmares

  • “Centralized bureaucratic control of anything is always dehumanizing at best. Everyone becomes more or less a 1984 robot.” (New York dentist)
  • “I would prefer they wait until hell freezes over to institute nationalized health care or nationalized dental care. There are few problems in this country that could not be solved by eliminating the role of the government and attorneys in the solution.” (California dentist)

Kids deserve dental coverage

  • “All children under 18 should have coverage (including ortho), and Medicare should cover periodontal treatment. These two actions would lower health costs paid for by taxpayers.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “The priority should be for children.” (Arizona dentist)
  • “Maybe just covering kids would be a better way to make a national plan. Adults make their own choices, and it's really crazy to attempt to cover adults whose daily habits lead to medical and dental problems that are preventable with good choices. People need to contribute part of the care out of their own pocket, or they treat it as a given instead of a privilege.” (Oregon dentist)

Dental insurance complaints

  • “We already have nationalized dental care. It is called dental insurance fee schedules.” (Michigan dentist)
  • “How about raising the maximum on existing dental plans? They have not gone up in over 20-25 years!” (Massachusetts dentist)
  • “Insurance companies are winning because we are paying them billions. This is one program where the government can actually turn a profit on your time and talent and dollar!” (General dentist)

ADA, give it up

  • “Is there a point when the ADA will quit championing nationalized dental care?" (Tennessee dentist)

The welfare mentality

  • “Too many government handouts. People feel they have a right to get everything instead of working for it.” (California dentist)
  • “I am still amazed that more than 50% of the population does not go to the dentist. We would be overwhelmed by people expecting 'free' dentistry."

Government ruins things

  • “When the government gets involved, everything gets worse! It's just the nature of the beast. The founding fathers knew this. That is why they drew up a limiting Constitution that no one listens to today!” (General dentist)
  • “Everything the government runs is extremely inefficient.” (California dentist)
  • “Government involvement is likely to severely hamper dental care, and the damage to the industry will be irreversible.”

Where will the money come from?

  • “Where is the government going to get the money to fund Universal Healthcare? Mmm…How about being able to properly fund Social Security first? Since the government is failing on that, I doubt the government can properly handle funding Universal Healthcare!!” (Ohio prosthodontist)

Turning American smiles British

  • “The teeth of our country will look like the citizens of the UK!” (District of Columbia dentist)
  • "If Americans nationalized dental care, our teeth would look like those of the British.” (Virginia dentist)
  • “Do Americans want to have teeth like the English? Even in England, more and more dentists are opting out of the National Dental Services. Same in Japan. I treat a lot of Japanese patients, and the dental care there is horrible for an otherwise advanced country. To get a root canal takes 4-10 visits because the dentist gets paid $7 per visit. and the RCT results are horrendous.” (New York dentist)


  • “Socialism is an ugly thing.” (Dental office worker)
  • “Communism, Marxism, and Stalinism are not American.” (Vermont prosthodontist)
  • “Just more socialized healthcare.” (California dentist)
  • “Obama is going to drive this country into a debt that will equate to the great floods back in Noah's Day. I pay $1000/mo for the wife and I for health care. Yeah, it's costly, but what isn't? So Obama is going to provide free health care to the world? I'm not talking just the US, as every deadbeat and their family will be beating down the borders trying to get a piece of that. Who's paying for this mess? One guess. t's the 'haves' who will be eternally paying for the 'have-nots.' Forget Democracy. Socialism here we come.” (Indiana dentist)

It doesn't work in other countries

  • “Even Canada, with its government-ruled medical system, isn't foolish enough to try that with dental care. Since most dental treatment is elective, the offer of ‘free’ dental care will result in greater demand, that nobody will be willing to pay for. The British experiment with government-run dental care resulted in extreme rationing of treatment. Educated Americans, who are used to dental
    implants and lifelong periodontal care, will not put up with mandated extractions and dentures from the government. We have already had a government-run dental system for years — it's called Medicaid — and it doesn't work.” (California dentist)
  • “I know dentists from the UK who would attest the the poor work and difficulty in even getting appointments for the average person. It forces the evolution of a two-tier system, with the fee-for-service (read: high-quality) sector being extremely expensive.” (Illinois dentist)

Eastern Europe

  • “Whoever had a chance to treat the newcomers from the Eastern Europe was able to see and to deal with the results of the socialized rationed dentistry. The difference is that back in the History and Geography there was not a lot to ruin. Every 'capita' was given the stamped SS crown and the set of complete dentures. Are the Americans ready for the same 'standard of care'?” (Illinois dentist)
  • “I have seen the amalgam crowns done in Europe which passed for acceptable dentistry there, but hey it was free! The old adage rings true: you get what you pay for. For those patients who think they will get full mouth reconstructions for free, I say keep dreaming.” (Texas dentist)

Taking dentistry back 50 years

  • “It would probably bump modern dentistry back into the 1950s. Even with EFDAs, dentistry is not totally delegatable- the dentist still has to do much of the work. And modern materials and techniques are not possible at 'throw away' fees. Think of the level of dental care available to the populations of Europe and Great Britain when provided by the government. Years ago, one of my patients, a British citizen, came in for his last prophy and exam before leaving to go back to the UK following a three year job in the States. He thanked me, then called me an SOB! He told me he was very happy to see the free, government dentists until he came to my office in Pennsylvania and found out what REAL dental care was. He was upset that he had to return home, find a private dentist, and pay out of pocket.” (Pennsylvania dentist)

Dentists should take control

  • “We cannot get reimbursed properly as a dentist now. Can you imagine how impossible that will be with nationalized dental care? We need to take a page from the medical community. Why do our dental reps make more money than we as dentists do? We need someone to renegotiate insurance contracts. We also need to get companies trying to sell us products/procedures to pay us or give us classes for free so that afterwards we will buy their product and do that procedure. Orthopedic surgeons when a new item is introduced are trained by the companies for FREE so they will use the product. These are the EXACT same companies in a lot of instances that charge us as dentist a tremendous amount of money for comparable classes. When and how will this change?” (Texas dentist)

Unhappy in Minnesota

  • “I think that legislators have no clue on the costs of delivering quality dental care. Most hospitals will not set up their ORs, day surgery, or ERs for the Dentist. Surgical Nurses hate working with DDS's because of our requirements for so many expensive supplies (with exp. dates), sterilizing the expensive equipment, maintenance and the cost of the setups. If an MD did what we do, the cost would be so much higher. We should be charging for our time (as MD's do, atty's, accts, etc), plus the cost of the facility, etc. For example, When I am in the hospital, every syringe of LA is charged, my time, OR time, Anesth (CRNA at $790/hr, plus Aneth. MD at $790/hr), all supplies, recovery room. Note, no MD would do what we do without GA or at least IV sedation. We as DDS's are not appreciated for our bedside manner in our surgery we do, nor are we paid accordingly. No hospital or MD will do this for the fees we do in our office. We should be charging an office visit as our MD counterparts do in addition to our procedures or we will never be appreciated for our education, CEC, experience, etc. Our legislators will still try to decrease the reimbursement because they still think we are just a DDS, not a 'Doctor.' They (in MN) believe anyone can do the surgery we do without being a Dr. Very frustrated in MN.” (Minnesota dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 124 respondents.

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