Dentists: 3 of 4 Say Their Areas Are Overserved

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Dentists say most areas overservedWhen we asked dentists if their areas were over-served, under-served, or just about
right, three out of four feel their areas are over-served. Every single urban dentist agreed.

"There is absolutely no shortage of dentists," declared one dentist.

Lots of dentists in the suburbs, few in rural areas

  • “If I were younger I would open up in a rural area. Competition in NYC is tough.” (Urban dentist)
  • “We are oversaturated in the suburb of the large city I live and work. Travel about 20 miles away from this suburb into the rural countryside, and those areas are underserved. This is very common in Ohio. My rural dentist friends in Ohio are doing well and are VERY busy.” (Suburban Ohio prosthodontist)

Competition is tight and getting tighter

  • “Not only overserved, but more new dental practices than patients are moving into the area.” (Suburban Illinois dentist)
  • “Over-marketed also.” (Suburban Pennsylvania dentist)

Some areas genuinely are underserved

  • “It’s mostly a problem of maldistribution. I am in a small rural town that is underserved, but most dentists want an urban area.” (Rural dentist)

Dental schools graduate too many dentists

  • “Shut down more dental schools!” (Suburban dentist)
  • “There is absolutely no shortage of dentists. There is no area in the state of Missouri, even in the most isolated areas, where you can't drive 45 minutes to an hour and receive quality dental care. People who choose to live in the country do so knowing they are not going to have a dentist right around the corner. The dental school here in Kansas City, Mo. is actually increasing their enrollment by about 20 students. Major mistake for the dental community.” (Suburban Missouri dentist)

A litany of problems

  • “Too many dental schools. Too many foreign dentists. HMO plans predominate, thus not allowing dentists to develop good treatment plans. What else is wrong?” (Urban California periodontist)

The problem with living in a desirable area

  • “I live and have my office in a really nice, fairly affluent, suburban area that is a highly desirable place to live. New dentists keep coming to the town and to the surrounding towns. Many of the new dentists are having a tough time, but also some of the older dentists that have not updated their offices and kept up with CE and technology are hurting too. You need to stay current! Also, dental supply/equipment companies need to be more honest with young dentists about how much NEED there is in a fairly dentally saturated area. Many companies still say, ‘There's always room for someone who is really good.'” (Suburban Illinois dentist)

Dentist density is increasing

  • “When I moved into this town, the population was about 26,000 and there were nine dentists. Today, the population is about 55,000 and there are sixty-three dentists in the phone book. So the population has about doubled, but the number of dentists has grown seven-fold! No wonder so many of my colleagues are trying to maximize income production on each patient they see — there aren't enough paying patients to go around any more. And I wonder how many of those doctors actually tell their patients that the number-one goal of their offices now is to maximize the amount charged to the patients — instead of conserving the patients' dental health as well as their pocketbooks.” (Suburban California dentist)

Other notes

  • "If the whole population came in once or twice a year, the area would be underserved.” (Rural Texas dentist)
  • “Having a dental school nearby has its downside in that too many new grads stay right here.” (Suburban dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 78 respondents.

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