covid_dds2024

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May 17, 2009
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Hi all,

I am looking for advice on whether or not I should defer my dental school acceptance. This past cycle I was accepted to my top choice and was incredibly excited to embark on this new chapter, but lo and behold, COVID hit leaving me uncertain about taking this step. I contacted the school to express my concerns and asked them if it would be possible for me to defer my acceptance. They were incredibly kind to let me do so, but I have about a week to decide.

Some context:
- I am a non-trad applicant with a secure and stable job in health research that provides me with a reasonable income (could potentially save ~20-25K by deferring). I sometimes enjoy my job (60% of the time) and could stay where I am, but I have frustrations with not seeing the impact of the work I do. I was particularly attracted to dentistry because of the patient interaction aspect and feeling fulfilled to know you 'fixed' someone's 'problem' - shadowing my dentist every Saturday for eight months was the highlight of my week on most weeks.
- My partner recently graduated from a dental school, has ~500K in loans and lost a job he had lined up. He does not intend to specialize and is looking for another job, but it's been tough. His goals are to eventually start his own practice and would consider doing so in the next 3-4 years.
- My expected COA would be about ~250-300K. The school is located in a state with an above average job market for dentists. I am looking for ways to finance my education using scholarships and applied for the NHSC this past cycle; however, I will not find out if I am a finalist until August.
- I have a fair bit of anxiety related to the future of dentistry given COVID and the recession we are living through (e.g., salaries potentially decreasing with increased overhead due to PPE and new infection control measures, increase in the DSO market share, saturation given the rise in # of graduates). I get that no one has answers to these questions and one could argue that these questions shouldn't impact my decision given that I am, at least, 4 years out of the job market, but it's hard to feel settled in my choice. I am also terrified of carrying debt, even though I know this is an 'investment in my future'.

Pros to deferring:
- Dental school experience might be better if I start in 2021 (assuming things settle down). As it stands, the school is planning to have a mix of virtual and in-person learning, but things may change depending on how COVID unfolds in the fall/winter.
- Could save more money, which I could put towards the cost of my education to lighten my debt burden.
- Would not have to worry about moving to the other side of the country in the middle of a pandemic.
- Minimize my concerns about me and my partner both being jobless if I go to school. This shouldn't stress me out as much as it does because my hope is that he will find something in the next few months and he has connections who have offered him part-time associate roles, but it still feels worrisome given how much debt he has.
- Could apply for a 4-year HPSP scholarship.

Cons to deferring:

- Discontent with knowing I could have finished dental school in 2024 vs 2025. It sounds silly but I am already in my late 20s and would like to get school done and over with sooner rather than later for a multitude of factors.
- Potentially losing interest in taking this step. Things that could deter me include seeing my partner struggle in the next year (which isn't an accurate reflection of the career path at its best), the COVID situation not settling down, a massive spike in tuition, etc.
- Feeling in limbo over the course of the next year knowing that I likely will not have the answers I am looking for with respect to the dental economics. Basically, I think this decision will be hard regardless of whether I choose to start now or next year, which doesn't feel great.

This has been weighing heavily on me and I'd love to hear the thoughts of current dental students, recent grads and current dentists.
 
Nov 19, 2019
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It seems you have a good sense of the pros and cons. One other thing to add is you may save $20k working this year but you’d also defer a dentists income by one year. Also student loan interest rates dropped significantly this year because of Covid and that may revert next year. All that being said, saving an additional $20k may not offset deferred income and the lower loan interest rate. Something to consider.
 
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BeggarsCantBeChoosers

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I'd just attend. First year is mostly didactic so u will mostly have online classes with a couple days in lab per week but not alot. You're not gonna miss out much first year with the COVID situation.
 
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Hi all,

I am looking for advice on whether or not I should defer my dental school acceptance. This past cycle I was accepted to my top choice and was incredibly excited to embark on this new chapter, but lo and behold, COVID hit leaving me uncertain about taking this step. I contacted the school to express my concerns and asked them if it would be possible for me to defer my acceptance. They were incredibly kind to let me do so, but I have about a week to decide.

Some context:
- I am a non-trad applicant with a secure and stable job in health research that provides me with a reasonable income (could potentially save ~20-25K by deferring). I sometimes enjoy my job (60% of the time) and could stay where I am, but I have frustrations with not seeing the impact of the work I do. I was particularly attracted to dentistry because of the patient interaction aspect and feeling fulfilled to know you 'fixed' someone's 'problem' - shadowing my dentist every Saturday for eight months was the highlight of my week on most weeks.
- My partner recently graduated from a dental school, has ~500K in loans and lost a job he had lined up. He does not intend to specialize and is looking for another job, but it's been tough. His goals are to eventually start his own practice and would consider doing so in the next 3-4 years.
- My expected COA would be about ~250-300K. The school is located in a state with an above average job market for dentists. I am looking for ways to finance my education using scholarships and applied for the NHSC this past cycle; however, I will not find out if I am a finalist until August.
- I have a fair bit of anxiety related to the future of dentistry given COVID and the recession we are living through (e.g., salaries potentially decreasing with increased overhead due to PPE and new infection control measures, increase in the DSO market share, saturation given the rise in # of graduates). I get that no one has answers to these questions and one could argue that these questions shouldn't impact my decision given that I am, at least, 4 years out of the job market, but it's hard to feel settled in my choice. I am also terrified of carrying debt, even though I know this is an 'investment in my future'.

Pros to deferring:
- Dental school experience might be better if I start in 2021 (assuming things settle down). As it stands, the school is planning to have a mix of virtual and in-person learning, but things may change depending on how COVID unfolds in the fall/winter.
- Could save more money, which I could put towards the cost of my education to lighten my debt burden.
- Would not have to worry about moving to the other side of the country in the middle of a pandemic.
- Minimize my concerns about me and my partner both being jobless if I go to school. This shouldn't stress me out as much as it does because my hope is that he will find something in the next few months and he has connections who have offered him part-time associate roles, but it still feels worrisome given how much debt he has.
- Could apply for a 4-year HPSP scholarship.

Cons to deferring:
- Discontent with knowing I could have finished dental school in 2024 vs 2025. It sounds silly but I am already in my late 20s and would like to get school done and over with sooner rather than later for a multitude of factors.
- Potentially losing interest in taking this step. Things that could deter me include seeing my partner struggle in the next year (which isn't an accurate reflection of the career path at its best), the COVID situation not settling down, a massive spike in tuition, etc.
- Feeling in limbo over the course of the next year knowing that I likely will not have the answers I am looking for with respect to the dental economics. Basically, I think this decision will be hard regardless of whether I choose to start now or next year, which doesn't feel great.

This has been weighing heavily on me and I'd love to hear the thoughts of current dental students, recent grads and current dentists.

Seems like you have thought this through and have a good list. These are concern that a lot of dental students have. I would note that one of your concerns is with the growing number of graduates, by deferring you will be graduating behind the D2024's.

I think you ultimately have to figure out if you want to go through with dentistry as a career, this might also help to decide if deferring will be worth it or not. I wish you the best on your decision, it's not an easy one!
 
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Traag

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Jun 14, 2014
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There's really no reason to defer in your situation unless you're questioning dentistry in general. As others have said, you won't even be in clinic during your first year; almost all of your work will be didactic (and probably online). What you'll have to complete in-person will amount to less time in contact with people than most jobs (unless you're a stay-at-home software developer or something).

Also, deferring a year to save maybe 20-25k in loans is a huge financial mistake. That's peanuts compared to the year of 120-300k+ you'll be losing. Keep in mind that's not necessarily a year lost at the beginning of your career, it's a year lost at the end when you might be making multiples of what a new grad does.

250-300k is on the low end of COA these days and it's only going to go up in a year's time. There's no guarantee you'd get HPSP or the NHSC scholarship if you defer, and even if you do, there are three year options for HPSP.

Your partner shouldn't have huge problems finding a job unless everything completely shuts down again for months (unlikely imo). He may have to work for a DSO or do something else that doesn't align with his post-grad dreams, but unfortunately that's the reality of racking up 500k in debt. His debt load is really your biggest problem. If you're not married yet, I'd suggest keeping your finances separate. Your situation individually is pretty clear for going to school in my opinion.
 
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P7898

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Seems like you and your spouse need to find a way to control your debt. Would recommend working as a medical assistant and going to PA school or a cheaper graduate health professions school. Your spouse is accumunlating 8% interest on $500k each year. He or she will not be able to pay that off in a timely matter. I'd recommend not going to dental school unless it is less than $200k because feasibly, as a unit, it doesn't make financial sense. You can do something quicker like PA, OT, PT, or Optometry or other things that costs half and makes decent money.

I had to sacrifice some things for my relationship because it just doesn't make sense sometimes when you think about you and your spouse. If it was just you then sure go for anything you want. But the fact of the matter is, your spouse has some SERIOUS debt. You need to help tackle that before going back to anything. Just my 2 cents as a future sailor of the real world.
 
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luisfigo

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you're not missing anything by not being there physically the first year, just go. The ONLY thing not worth missing out on is clinic time, which, believe me, COMPLETELY sucks!! You're costing yourself a year of salary, dental school blows, the sooner you get it over with the better. As far as the field, it's only saturated in saturated areas, plenty are underserved, also in dentistry it's up to you how much salary you make. Dont' want to do endo? that's $1,100 you missed out on, same with implants, you make your own salary by what you're willing and able to do, that's on you.
 
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you're not missing anything by not being there physically the first year, just go. The ONLY thing not worth missing out on is clinic time, which, believe me, COMPLETELY sucks!! You're costing yourself a year of salary, dental school blows, the sooner you get it over with the better. As far as the field, it's only saturated in saturated areas, plenty are underserved, also in dentistry it's up to you how much salary you make. Dont' want to do endo? that's $1,100 you missed out on, same with implants, you make your own salary by what you're willing and able to do, that's on you.
There aren't very many underserved areas at all. Likely the only underserved areas in the nation are those counties where livestock outnumber people.

Seems like the truth can be hard for some people to hear lol... Dentistry is very saturated, that's just the way it is.
 
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Kenshin_Med

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Tbh I don’t mind virtual and in class blended right now. I get to spend more time studying and less time driving/being in lecture.
 
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pookey123

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you can save money by defering but keep in mind schools raise tuition every year your projected cost savings will be less
 

Faefly

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Just attend dental school or leave this chance to someone who is more serious about this choice!
 

smartymcfly

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There aren't very many underserved areas at all. Likely the only underserved areas in the nation are those counties where livestock outnumber people.

Seems like the truth can be hard for some people to hear lol... Dentistry is very saturated, that's just the way it is.
There are plenty of underserved areas.



 
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MG14

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Lmao, keep drinking the kool aid.. Dentistry is very saturated and only getting worse.
This just shows the plain out ignorance that exists. This generation is full of people who think their reality and experience is only thing that exists in in the world.

Heres the thing, there are PLENTY of underserved areas, but the catch is, dental schools really don't care about those. Yeah, they'll give lip service and claim its a focus but look at their rising cost of tuition. With dental school tuition being so high, it only attracts a certain kind of people, those who feel and think the can afford it, which are usually people who don't come from underserved areas. In turn, dental students can't afford to go help 'underserved' communities, they have to go where they will financially be able to pay off their loans, give them the lifestyle that they want and make this whole dentistry thing worth it. That is why it 'feels' over saturated, because all the attractive markets are only that way because those are the kind people who can attend dental school now days in the first place. Rural areas can make a lot of money, but where most of the people who can actually afford to go to dental school come from urban and metropolitan areas, thats where they tend to end up
 
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pookey123

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Don’t forget dental therapists are coming as well.
hygienists are team members, not the enemy. The fear of dental therapists is overblown. Insurance (delta), corporations (aka dental schools), DSOs, and other dentists are responsible for the decline of dentistry. hygienists are not the root of the problem
 
Mar 18, 2019
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Heres the thing, there are PLENTY of underserved areas, but the catch is, dental schools really don't care about those.
Wait, what? This is just so off base.
The only people perpetrating the myth that there are underserved areas in dentistry are the dental schools themselves.. They do this so they can justify expanding their classes. Or opening new schools. It's always done under the mantra of "access to care", and "underserved areas".. When in really it's purely driven by greed, so they can take more tuition money from students.
 

fermi555

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Wait, what? This is just so off base.
The only people perpetrating the myth that there are underserved areas in dentistry are the dental schools themselves.. They do this so they can justify expanding their classes. Or opening new schools. It's always done under the mantra of "access to care", and "underserved areas".. When in really it's purely driven by greed, so they can take more tuition money from students.
I've been planning on living in a rural area since I started dental school and the salaries in the areas I'm looking at are pretty high, so such areas do exist. However, I've realized I'm one of very few who has any desire to live in such an area. This notion that churning out record numbers of dentists will fix this "underserved" problem is asinine. Almost no graduate wants to go to rural Kansas, let alone convince their spouse to go with them. Everyone wants to live in Chicago, Kansas City, New York, etc. Pre dents might say they're willing to live in rural North Dakota to justify 500k+ of debt, but when it's all said and done, they won't. They'll continue to move to the desirable cities and increase the saturation there.
 
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MG14

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Wait, what? This is just so off base.
The only people perpetrating the myth that there are underserved areas in dentistry are the dental schools themselves.. They do this so they can justify expanding their classes. Or opening new schools. It's always done under the mantra of "access to care", and "underserved areas".. When in really it's purely driven by greed, so they can take more tuition money from students.
You just proved my ignorance point.

As a kid growing up, the closest dentist was an hour away from me. That would mean 2 hours round trip just to go to the dentist. Not including the appointment. That was in the western United States.

I also lived in rural Appalachia for awhile, some people were traveling 1-2 hours to go to the dentist. There is also many poor areas where most couldn’t afford it. Hence, oral health is a real issue. So yes, underserved areas are a thing.
Again, just because you don’t know about them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

I totally agree though, again due to the cost of dental school, only attracts and allows a certain demographic to attend dental school. Those people go back to the urban and suburban areas that they grew up in or want and practice. Hence, its an over concentration (not saturation) issue.
 
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2thDoc11

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I've been planning on living in a rural area since I started dental school and the salaries in the areas I'm looking at are pretty high, so such areas do exist. However, I've realized I'm one of very few who has any desire to live in such an area. This notion that churning out record numbers of dentists will fix this "underserved" problem is asinine. Almost no graduate wants to go to rural Kansas, let alone convince their spouse to go with them. Everyone wants to live in Chicago, Kansas City, New York, etc. Pre dents might say they're willing to live in rural North Dakota to justify 500k+ of debt, but when it's all said and done, they won't. They'll continue to move to the desirable cities and increase the saturation there.
I’m a ND resident and I wouldn’t mind coming back to ND.. I got friends and family here:)
 

Kenshin_Med

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The problem with underserved areas is they need to provide better incentives for dentist if they want to attract more dentist. Yes they have certain NHSC gigs, but they need to do more. They are also not as easy as you think to get into those jobs. Also dental therapists are technically supposed to serve those underserved areas. Who is to say that they will stay in those areas? At some point they will compete with dentist let’s be honest. If they can provide the same standard of care for certain procedures then why wouldn’t a corporate office or even a private office just higher therapists for drill and fill. Just like how urgent cares replaced a lot of the doctor roles with physician assistants. Just my thoughts.
 
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LaughingGas

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The problem with underserved areas is they need to provide better incentives for dentist if they want to attract more dentist. Yes they have certain NHSC gigs, but they need to do more. They are also not as easy as you think to get into those jobs. Also dental therapists are technically supposed to serve those underserved areas. Who is to say that they will stay in those areas? At some point they will compete with dentist let’s be honest. If they can provide the same standard of care for certain procedures then why wouldn’t a corporate office or even a private office just higher therapists for drill and fill. Just like how urgent cares replaced a lot of the doctor roles with physician assistants. Just my thoughts.
Agree. Need 200k+ base salary + loan forgiveness. Then let's see if there would be real shortage of dentists in rural areas. No one wants to take medicaid/ hmo insurances because, doesn't even pay for a carpule of lidocaine. When my buddy tells me he did a root canal for 50 bucks, I am like f*** that. Government and schools are taking profits from the students and then have the guts to blame/ make excuse that there is shortage of dentists.
 
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Big Time Hoosier

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Everyone wants to live in Chicago, Kansas City, New York, etc. Pre dents might say they're willing to live in rural North Dakota to justify 500k+ of debt, but when it's all said and done, they won't.
I would take rural North Dakota over some urban cesspool any day, even if it paid less! Don’t even have to think about that one.


Big Hoss
 
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fermi555

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I would take rural North Dakota over some urban cesspool any day, even if it paid less! Don’t even have to think about that one.


Big Hoss
Couldn't agree more. I can't imagine raising a big family in a city at this point.
 
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Mar 18, 2019
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You just proved my ignorance point.

As a kid growing up, the closest dentist was an hour away from me. That would mean 2 hours round trip just to go to the dentist. Not including the appointment. That was in the western United States.

I also lived in rural Appalachia for awhile, some people were traveling 1-2 hours to go to the dentist. There is also many poor areas where most couldn’t afford it. Hence, oral health is a real issue. So yes, underserved areas are a thing.
Again, just because you don’t know about them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

I totally agree though, again due to the cost of dental school, only attracts and allows a certain demographic to attend dental school. Those people go back to the urban and suburban areas that they grew up in or want and practice. Hence, its an over concentration (not saturation) issue.
The problem with many of these areas is that they are so rural and there are so few people, that one dentist possibly couldn't make a living there if they were to try to establish themselves in these areas. I'm sure that's the case in your situation if you had to drive an hour to get to a dentist. It's not like there are all these hidden goldmines everywhere where there are no dentists. They would have been swooped up already by now if that were the case. Mobile clincis, etc are the only way to reach these super rural areas.
 

MG14

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The problem with many of these areas is that they are so rural and there are so few people, that one dentist possibly couldn't make a living there if they were to try to establish themselves in these areas. I'm sure that's the case in your situation if you had to drive an hour to get to a dentist. It's not like there are all these hidden goldmines everywhere where there are no dentists. They would have been swooped up already by now if that were the case. Mobile clincis, etc are the only way to reach these super rural areas.
Well sure. But that’s a conversation for a different day. I was just arguing your point about underserved areas being a myth.

they do exist and there are opportunities. But due to the current financial environment to become a dentist, those areas just aren’t attractive. And I don’t blame graduates one bit for not wanting to go to them. Dentals school have financially ruined the whole field. And hence why there’s the over concentration problem in those more attractive markets.
 
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Mar 18, 2019
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Dentals school have financially ruined the whole field. And hence why there’s the over concentration problem in those more attractive markets.
Oh I agree with you 100% there, the biggest problem with this field is the dental schools. Their greed is astounding. Sure, there are lots of problems, but the biggest is by far the schools.

What's concerning to me is the total and complete apathy that dentists and dental organizations have concerning this issue. Like, people think oh this is someone else's problem... Well it's really not. It will affect everyone. Soon, dentists won't be independent practitioners anymore because corporate will continue to grow, and bully.. They'll start to make exclusive insurance deals with local employers, which will make it impossible to run your own practice. That's precisely what happened in medicine, and I'm sure it will happen to dentistry too. It probably could be stopped if these organized dentistry groups had any sort of backbone, but it doesn't seem like that's the case. These runaway tuition costs and gross oversaturation (both of which are the fault of the dental schools) is what's fueling it.
 
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2TH MVR

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The big three.

1. Dental School excessive tuition
The cost of entry into becoming a dentist at "these" schools has outpaced the "average" income return.
2. DSO proliferation
They are systematically eliminating the "Mom and Pop" dental practices. They operate with large budgets, have expert management, can negotiate better fees, and the biggie. They are an attractive employment option for those new grads just out of school with tons of debt. Currently most DSOs
operate in the urban areas, but even that will change eventually. There will always be a place for private practices, but they will become a niche
business. Why you ask? Because YOU as a society and the online age ..... have demanded that EVERYTHING including dentistry becomes
"convenient" and assessible 24 yrs a day. Can't blame Amazon (Bezos). Blame society.
3. Insurance companies
They are a 3rd party entity whose main goal is to make money. They exist between the patients and the providers (dentists). They make money by dictating treatment, always looking to marginalize or reduce insurance benefits to the dentist. They thrive since most patients work for large
companies and those companies are constantly looking at ways of reducing employee health and dental benefits (HMO/PPO instead of good
indemnity insurance). But even the good indemnity insurance has not raised their yearly max benefits for decades. Bring inflation into the picture and
you can see that the reimbursements are worth less.

But there is hope.

1. Go to a cheap DS to give you more options.
2. Practice in a semi-rural or rural area. E-commerce people like urban cities. Obviously a rural area has it's issues, but you will have the best opportunity to establish a "TRADITIONAL" dental practice. Knowing what I know now .... I would rather make less money in a nice, traditional dental practice located in a small town vs. dealing with the circus that is an urban area.
 
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Apr 10, 2020
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hygienists are team members, not the enemy. The fear of dental therapists is overblown. Insurance (delta), corporations (aka dental schools), DSOs, and other dentists are responsible for the decline of dentistry. hygienists are not the root of the problem
The same was said about midlevels in medicine. Ask a current non-surgical resident what they think about mid-level independence. It will be even easier for dental therapists to replace the majority of dentists in DSO offices. I heard from a few people that ~80% of dental therapist graduating from the UMN are staying in metro areas.
 
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Nov 8, 2020
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The same was said about midlevels in medicine. Ask a current non-surgical resident what they think about mid-level independence. It will be even easier for dental therapists to replace the majority of dentists in DSO offices. I heard from a few people that ~80% of dental therapist graduating from the UMN are staying in metro areas.
I just got accepted into dental school this week. And today, I learned there is something called a dental therapist already trying to take my job. Welcome to 2020.
 
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