Friday, March 2, 2012

Dentist Indicator?

March 2, 2012
Calculated Risk: The Dentist Indicator

My guess is some people put off their regular check-ups during tough economic times, and then start back up again once they find a new job or are feeling better about their economic situation.

There's one thing from the list that he's missed and it isn't nearly so optimistic.

My girlfriend lost her job about 3 years ago and with it went the dental insurance. I stopped seeing the dentist in the hopes that she would find a new job and I'd be covered again. So that part definitely matches his theory.

In September of last year a crown broke off (and part of a filling popped out shortly before it). I could no longer avoid seeing the dentist. I had to go. I found a new dentist (wasn't all that happy with the last one). There was a LOT of work that needed to be done (much of it accumulating over the 3 years of not seeing a dentist). I have spent $10k on dentistry since September and none of it was covered by insurance. No joke.

My girlfriend did not find a new job. I am not feeling better about my economic situation. My teeth simply needed the work. It has been 4 years since the start of the last recession. I'm guessing that many other American teeth *need* work too.

Heaven help the ones who can't afford it. Seriously.


Stagflationary Mark said...

There is "pent-up" dentist demand.

There's inflation in our needs and deflation in our wants.

Like medical care, dentistry is a need.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Would we be similarly optimistic if more people were visiting their doctors?

Should we be?

dearieme said...

Personally I attribute the shorter life expectancies of Americans (compared to many other advanced countries) to their excessive dental work.

Stagflationary Mark said...


The dental checkbook stress certainly did not add years to my life. And then there is the broken crown I swallowed. Very sharp. Might still be in me. Who knows!

AllanF said...

Back in '08 before going embarking on my first of hopefully many retirements I figured I should go see the dentist. It was the first time in 8 years and the second in 12. I didn't know what to expect.

The hygienist couldn't believe I hadn't had a teeth cleaning in years. She gave me the usual nagging about flossing I tried to come up with something snappy without too much snark, but the best I could muster was a smile and eye-roll. Since then, I've come to learn supplementing vitamins K2 & D are the best thing you can do for dental health. Lots cheaper than a dentist.

Mr Slippery said...

It's amazing the different views people have of the same data. CR believes increasing dental work means a recovering economy, but it sure wasn't the case for you.

I don't think we can put much stock in the dentist indicator. Maybe the optometrist is less necessary, more discretionary and a better measure of general recovery. I don't know.

My income is dropping, but my insurance is still in force, so even though things are not really getting better for me, it won't slow down my dental visits.

AllanF said...

Well, I suppose on a macro scale I'd side with CR vs. either of Mark or me.

I sure am not reading into it a wave of discretionary retirements coming. ;-)

mab said...

I haven't been to a dentist in decades despite having dental insurance coverage.

Knock on enamel, but hopefully I can keep the streak going for many decades to come.

ps The new word ver system is a drag.

Stagflationary Mark said...

AllanF and mab,

As a group, our "median" teeth are looking awesome! ;)

The word verification system is proving that you aren't robots. No robot would work under these conditions.