As someone who inherited high-maintenance teeth, I am very sensitive to the significance of dentists. In a recession, we talk so much of job losses and payroll cuts, it's easy to forget that people in many professions provide functions that are vital to our society's health and its ability to function--like dentists.
Three recent headlines are a useful reminder:
- Kentucky dentist Edwin Smith spent $150,000 on a mobile dental clinic to treat the rampant problem of "Mountain Dew Mouth" in Central Appalachia, where Mountain Dew serves as "a kind of anti-depressant for children," ABC News reports. Some parents reportedly put the highly caffeinated soft drink in baby bottles.
- Dentists are so much in need in Maine that doctors are now learning the basic tricks of the dental trade, the New York Times reports. The national average dentist-to-patient ratio is 1 to 1,600. It's 1 to 2,300 in Maine.
- Another interesting piece of data: Research firm Sageworks reports that dentistry was the most profitable industry in 2008--dentists' offices averaged nearly 17 percent.