Alex: Actually, it’s even more like, after your physical, they’re like, “All right, while you’re here, facelift?”
Ferris: Exactly. And so there’s something interesting has happened during the pandemic, which is that I think a lot of people have not been going to the dentist nearly as frequently, because we’ve all been trying to sort of avoid anything that isn’t absolutely essential. And of course the maxim that we’ve all grown up with is that you should go to the dentist twice a year, every six months. But it turns out there’s no scientific backing for that maxim, and some scholars have even traced it to a toothpaste commercial from decades ago, or possibly even to a pamphlet from the 1800s. And most dentists these days agree that if you’re an adult with good oral hygiene, you probably don’t need to go to the dentist more than once every 12 to 16 months.
Alex: Ferris talked about how the field of dentistry developed separately for medicine and how that still affects the way it works today. But that’s just one piece of it. Daryl Austin also talked about how dentists make money, and the economic incentive to overtreat patients. Here’s Daryl.
Daryl: One of the dentists I interviewed actually said, “I see myself as a business owner first and a dentist second.” Meaning, of course, that they wanted to do right by their patients, but that they see it as a business. In fact, I think sometimes when I see a new dentist office pop up around the corner…