There are more dentists in San Francisco area than in remote Modoc or Inyo Counties. But there are some interesting facts nonetheless.
Alpine County has no actively practicing dentists. In San Benito and Inyo counties, there is one dentist for every 5,000 residents. Imperial and Colusa counties have one for every 4,000 residents.
In contrast, San Francisco County has 6.1 licensed dentists for every 5,000 residents, and neighboring Placer County and Marin County have 5.2 and 5.0 per 5,000, respectively.
This distribution illustrates the marketplace. More affluent people with money to pay for private dentistry means more dentists will flock to practice there. No surprise.
But, what is most interesting is the changing demographics of California dentists.
The percentage of dentists who may be nearing retirement age is greater than the percentage of newly licensed dentists. Fifteen percent of active dentists have received their license within the past five years, while 20% have been licensed for 30 or more years. In some counties far fewer are newly licensed and many more are nearing retirement age. Among newly licensed dentists, 45% are female and 91% are generalists. Among those nearing retirement age, however, only 4% are female and 75% are generalists.
So, will there be a shortage of California dentists in the near future as baby boom generation dentists, like Flap, retire from active clinical practice?
And, what will the impact of more women dentists have on dental practice distribution demographics?
Flap has no immediate answers but with California dentists already numbering the most in the nation and with a seemingly dental office on every block in Los Angeles County, my bet is that there will be a gradual shift away from many solo, general practices to more group models.
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