The Hidden Lives of Dentists

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Being a dentist can be a lonely job. Your patients don’t want to be there — and even if they did, it’s not like they can talk with their mouths open. Most dentists are solo practitioners, and many feel isolated. And, even though oral health is very important to our overall well-being, dentistry is totally separate from the rest of medicine. But there is a very active Facebook group where dentists can talk shop, connect with each other, ask for help, complain, and compare notes. So — what’s worrying dentists? In this episode, we look at some of the forces that are disrupting and changing dentistry.

We hear about the rise of SmileDirect — and why brick and mortar dentists and orthodontists are upset about the new mail-order system. We learn about the skyrocketing cost of dental school, and what it means for future dentists. And we find out what advancements are changing the field, from startups to cutting-edge tech.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with health care reporter Mary Otto about the rise of dental therapists, and what they have to do with economic inequality. Otto also discusses the dentistry-medical divide. She is the author of “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.”
  • We call up internist Neda Frayha to find out how primary care providers tackle the issue of oral health. How often do they ask their patients about whether they’re seeing a dentist?
  • Reporter Will Stone takes us to the University of Washington in Seattle, where surgeons and dentists are using technology to revolutionize how we reconstruct the mouth.
  • Nobody likes going to the dentist — but a new start-up is trying to change that. Matthew Schneeman reports on a new startup called Tend. Their tagline: “Look forward to the dentist.”

437 episodes