Policy Brief Raises Concerns About Dentist Shortage in California
Choosing a big practice like California Dental Group as your dentist helps ensure care is always available
A recent brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research raised concerns about a possible shortage of dentists in California based on shifting demographics of practicing dentists in the state. California has always had underserved communities, particularly in northern and rural areas, but for the first time a shortage is expected to affect wealthier, densely populated communities as well. Why? Because of how newly licensed and long-established dentists are acting.
More New Dentists Practicing Out of State
Right now, the number of dentists in California is still growing. However, the growth rate has slowed as many dentists choose to practice elsewhere. Between 2008 and 2012, the number of dentists licensed in California but living or practicing elsewhere grew by 6 percent. The trend is even more alarming among new dentists—whereas in 2008, 96 percent of dentists licensed in the preceding 5 years were practicing in California, by 2012 this figure had dropped to 86 percent.
Fewer General Dentists
Another potential problem is that the number of new dentists who consider themselves specialists rather than general dentists is growing. Between 2008 and 2012, this number grew by 6 percent. With fewer general dentists, it could become more difficult for patients to access the basic dental services like cleanings and exams that are needed to keep their teeth clean and healthy.
More Dentists Approaching Retirement
Almost 25 percent of licensed dentists in California have over 30 years of experience under their belts and are gearing up for retirement. If rates of new dentists settling in California don’t match the rate of old dentists retiring, we could end up with a shortage. As the director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research put it, “Good access to dental care depends on having a robust supply of new dentists in California. We need a new generation of dentists to replace the many dentists who are close to retirement.”
Get Continuity of Care at California Dental Group
At California Dental Group, we don’t expect our patients to be affected by the lack of young dentists or the glut of retiring dentists. Because we are a large practice with multiple dentists on staff, we have more flexibility to adjust to changing patient needs. If you were seeing one particular dentist at our clinic and he or she moves or retires, you can simply choose a new dentist from our staff. The transition will be easy because you already know our practice and we already have your complete dental history.