Survey: Four of five dentists favor universal dental licensure

March 16, 2007
Clear majority of American dentists want one license that would let them practice their profession in any of the 50 states, a recent survey indicates.

TIBURON, California--Eighty-four percent of dentists favor universal licensure, according to a recent Wealthy Dentist survey.

Many dentists desire some sort of national credential system that would allow them to practice in any U.S. state, much like physicians. The minority of dentists who oppose this are particularly likely to live in sunny states--states other dentists may be eyeing for working retirements.

Half of those dentists who support the current system of regional or state-by-state licensure live in only three states: Florida, California and Texas.

"Once [one has] passed the Florida board, it is a tough decision to then open it up to everyone," wrote one Florida dentist. "We really can't have tons of semi-retired folks down here competing."

This attitude enrages dentists in other states.

"This is THE reason why I am not a member of the ADA and will never rejoin until we have national reciprocity," commented one Indiana dentist. "Florida argues their dentists are superior and don't want to welcome any of us inferior dentists from other states. Nonsense!"

Dentists are currently licensed on a state or regional basis. Many were full of scathing criticisms of the existing system: "protectionism at its worst," "a scam," "out of touch with the real world." A New York dentist summed it up: "Licensure by credentials should be the rule."

Many just want to be able to move.

One Massachusetts dentist summed it up: "This is SUPPOSED to be a free country where people can relocate as desired. This current system is just regional protectionism." A Colorado dentist agreed, saying, "It's ridiculous how hard it is to move anywhere and practice our profession."

"Don't you know that teeth are different from one state to the next?" joked a Pennsylvania dentist. A colleague from Illinois echoed the sentiment: "Humans in all 50 states are similar enough that local examinations shouldn't be required to prove proficiency for local humans."

A few defended the current system.

"The purpose of credentialing is to prevent dentists who are inept, addicted to drugs, or just plain dumb from going state-to-state leaving a wake of disaster behind them," wrote a Michigan dentist.

It's not clear exactly how universal licensure would be implemented. Dentists suggested various restrictions, including graduating from a licensed U.S. dental school, universal testing, a jurisprudence exam, and five years of practice in good standing.

Many see it as an issue of fair trade.

"I always thought that restraint of trade was against the law," complained a California orthodontist. Many expressed envy of their medical colleagues. Commented one Virginia dentist, "Physicians can do it, and we, as dentists, have a very low in-office patient mortality rate."

The Wealthy Dentist founder Jim Du Molin explained the importance of the survey.

"Dentists see tens of millions of patients every month. What an influential group of people! Plus, dentists' daily interactions with ordinary Americans give them a far broader perspective than many other professionals. I don't think most dentists even realize how much their opinion matters."

For additional information on this and other Wealthy Dentist surveys, visit The Wealthy Dentist.