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Is dentistry changed forever by the recession?

September 17, 2012

By Kelly Soderlund, ADA News staff

San Francisco—A panel of expert health economists at Annual Session will shed light on whether the effects of the recent economic downturn are temporary or whether there are other long-term forces at play.

Dr. Bailit

Has the Economic Downturn Changed Dentistry Forever? (course 5307) will be presented from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18. There is no fee for the course, and participants are eligible to receive 2.5 continuing education units.

Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., managing vice president of the ADA Health Policy Resources Center, will join panelists Dr. L. Jackson Brown and Dr. Howard L. Bailit, both Ph.Ds. Drs. Brown and Bailit have published widely on health policy and been active in academic dentistry, organized dentistry and dental research. Each has served on many national committees and editorial boards.

Dr. Vujicic

Dr. Jeffrey M. Cole, who serves on the Council on Dental Practice’s Subcommittee on Practice Models and Economics, will moderate. The subcommittee studies changing trends and models affecting the delivery of dental care.

“The caliber of speakers we have on the panel for this course is incredible,” Dr. Cole said. “Drs. Vujicic, Brown and Bailit will be able to shed light on trends on the demand for dental procedures, the declining trend in patient dental visits and how these affect the profession and what the future holds, among many other areas. For those who plan to attend: prepare to be enlightened.”

Dr. Brown

Dr. Vujicic and HPRC staff members authored an article that appeared in the May edition of The Journal of the American Dental Association titled “An Analysis of Dentists’ Incomes, 1996-2009,” which explored many of the themes that will be covered at the Annual Session course. The article stated the recession has caused an expected decrease in dentists’ income but ADA survey data shows that drop has been occurring since 2005, years before the economic downturn began.

The authors found that the primary reason for the decrease in net income was because of a drop in dental visits. In a nutshell: people have been going to the dentist less frequently, a troubling trend that appears to have started prior to the economic downturn.

“Analysis suggests strongly that several important trends were established prior to the downturn that will have startling long-term implications for the profession,” Dr. Vujicic said.

There will be a Q&A following the presentation.