Dental Industry

Dentistry is the art and science of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions, diseases, and disorders of the oral cavity, the maxillofacial region, and its associated structures as it relates to human beings. A dentist is qualified to practice dentistry after graduating with a degree of (D.D.S.) Doctor of Dental Surgery or (D.M.D.) Doctor of Dental Medicine in the US. In most countries, to become a qualified dentist you must usually complete at least 8 years of study; an undergraduate degree at the university level and 4 years doctoral training. At least 2 years practical experience working with patients in the educational setting during the last two years of doctoral training are required. General Dental Practice includes most examination, diagnosis, treatment planning, treatment, and prevention of disease. The dentist and with the aide of other dental auxiliaries frequently uses X-rays, oral examination and other equipment to ensure correct diagnosis and treatment planning. Treatment may include filling dental cavities, removing the nerves of teeth (R.C.T or Root Canal Treatment), treating diseases of the gums, removing teeth (Extraction), and replacing lost teeth with bridges and dentures (Dental Plates). Anesthesia is often used in any treatment that might cause pain. Teeth may be filled with gold, silver, amalgam, or cements, and with fused porcelain inlays. Dentists treat diseases of the mouth and gums such as trench mouth and Periodontitis. An important part of general dental practice is preventive dentistry. If a dentist examines a patient's teeth at regular intervals, a disease may be detected and treated before it becomes serious. Dentists also demonstrate proper methods of brushing and flossing the teeth. They may advise their patients about what food to eat or to avoid for good dental health. Dentists may also treat teeth with Fluorides or other substances to prevent decay. In addition to general dentistry, there are nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association and require 2-6 years of residency training after dental school. The specialties are:
  • Dental Public Health (study of dental epidemiology and social health policies),
  • Endodontics (root canal therapy),
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (study, diagnosis, and often the treatment of oral and maxillofacial related diseases),
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (study and radiologic interpretation of oral and maxillofacial diseases),
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (extractions and facial surgery),
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics (straightening of teeth),
  • Pedodontics (pediatric dentistry; i.e. dentistry for children),
  • Periodontics (treatment of gum disease),
  • Prosthodontics (replacement of missing facial anatomy by prostheses such as dentures, bridges and implants).

Oral Health

The dental industry can be categorized under oral health. Oral refers to the mouth, which includes the teeth, gums, and supporting tissues. It is easy to take your oral health for granted, but it is key to living each day comfortably. These tissues allow you to speak, smile, sigh, kiss, smell, taste, chew, swallow, and cry. They also let you show a world of feelings through expressions. Taking good care of these tissues can prevent disease in them and throughout your body. How are problems with the tissues in your mouth linked to health problems in other places in your body?
The health of your mouth can be a sign of your overall health. Many serious diseases, such as diabetes, HIV, and some eating disorders, show their first signs as symptoms in the mouth. This is why it is important to have complete, regular oral exams. The most common oral health problems are cavities and gum disease.


All 50 States and the District of Columbia require dentists to be licensed. To qualify for a license in most States, candidates must graduate from 1 of the 56 dental schools accredited by the American Dental Association’s (ADA’s) Commission on Dental Accreditation in 2004, and then must pass written and practical examinations. Candidates may fulfill the written part of the State licensing requirements by passing the National Board Dental Examinations. Individual States or regional testing agencies administer the written or practical examinations.
Dental schools require a minimum of 2 years of college-level predental education, regardless of the major chosen. However, most dental students have at least a bachelor’s degree. Predental education emphasizes coursework in science, and many applicants to dental school major in a science such as biology or chemistry, while other applicants major in another subject and take many science courses as well. A few applicants are accepted to dental school after 2 or 3 years of college and complete their bachelor’s degree while attending dental school.
All dental schools require applicants to take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). When selecting students, schools consider scores earned on the DAT, applicants’ grade point averages, and information gathered through recommendations and interviews. Competition for admission to dental school is keen.

Types of Industries

There are many types of industries. The industries are categorized into 4 main divisions: Monopoly, Monopolistic competition, Perfect competition, and Oligopoly.

1. Monopoly = is a board game played by two to eight players. (ha ha... just seeing if you were paying attention)
In economics, a monopoly is when a product or service can only be bought from one supplier. In many places, utilities such as telephone service or cable television are monopolies. A product market characterized by one seller and perfect barrier to entry.
2. Monopolistic competition = is a common market form. Many markets can be considered as monopolistically competitive, often including the markets for restaurants, books, clothing, films and service industries in large cities. A product market characterized by numerous sellers, moderate product differentiation, no barriers to entry, and some imperfections in consumer information.
3. Perfect competition = is an economic model that describes a hypothetical market form in which no producer or consumer has the market power to influence prices. According to the standard economical definition of efficiency (Pareto efficiency), perfect competition would lead to a completely efficient outcome. The analysis of perfectly competitive markets provides the foundation of the theory of supply and demand. A product market characterized by numerous buyers and sellers, a homogeneous product, no barriers to entry, and perfect consumer information.
4. Oligopoly = is a market form in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers (oligopolists). Some industries which are oligopolies are referred to as the "Big 3" or the "Big 4." Because there are few participants in this type of market, each oligopolist is aware of the actions of the others. Oligopolistic markets are characterized by interactivity. The decisions of one firm influence, and are influenced by the decisions of other firms. Strategic planning by oligopolists always involves taking into account the likely responses of the other market participants. This causes oligopolistic markets and industries to be at the highest risk for collusion. A product market that is characterized by a few dominant sellers and substantial barriers to entry.
(Source: Santerre, Neun, Health Economics)

I think the Dental Industry is most closely related to a Monopolistic Competition, especially when referring to a family dentist. The Dental Industry has many number of sellers, the individual firms share a large portion of the market share, and there are no real significant barriers to entry.
To learn more about Monopolistic Competition, go to the following link:

Motives Entering Industry

There are five main motivations upon entering the dental industry.
1. Prestige
2. Financial Earnings
3. Human Service
4. Autonomy
5. Manual Skill
(Source: Nathan Kohn, Jr., The American Journal of Sociology)

Sample Questions:

Question: About how many years would it take to become a Doctor of Dental Medicine?
A. 4
B. 2
C. 8
D. 9

C: 4 at a university level and 4 years of doctorial training

Question: What is the dentistry for children called?

Answer: Pedodontics is the pediatric dentistry.

Question: What industry structure is the Dental Industry most closely related?
A. Monopoly
B. Monopolistic Competition
C. Oligopoly
D. Perfect Competition

B--A product market characterized by numerous sellers, moderate product differentiation, no barriers to entry, and some imperfections in consumer information.

Question: Oral Health refers to all of the following EXCEPT:
A. Teeth
B. Gum
C. Supporting tissue
D. Bacteria


Question: What is the main reason the Dental Industry would not be considered a Monopoly?

Answer: The main reason is a Monopoly has barriers to entry while the Dental Industry does not. Also w/ a Monopoly, there is not really any close substitutes of the products, while the Dental Industry has plenty.