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International Dental Associations Issues & People Professional Issues

CDA Oasis Conversations: Dr. Kathy O’Loughlin: Helping Dentists Succeed in a Changing Paradigm


KODr. Kathy O’Loughlin, Executive Director of the American Dental Association, spoke with Dr. John O’Keefe about the new economic and generational realities facing the dental profession in the US and North America.


  • Change in the economic environment with a general slowdown in dental demand in US, particularly among adult patients.
  • Finances represent a big barrier to accessing care, and dentistry hasn’t recovered from the 2008 recession.
  • The Millennials are different: young dentists view dental organizations differently than Baby Boomer dentists did.
  • With the health care reform in the US, there has been a big move to increase the number of dental patients on Medicaid for underserved patients, but dentists’ involvement is not yet proportionate to that increase.
  • There is an increase in large practices with different ownership models. Organized dentistry was not built to cater to employee dentists.
  • Dental students and young dentists are excited about dentistry as a great career. Their professional aspirations are different from those of Baby Boomer dentists.
  • Student debt is a big issue for these young dentists and ADA is working hard to understand the needs of these young dentists and how to help them.
  • Organizations have to be geared up to help mobile young dentists to set-up practice in areas where they can get their career off to a good start.
  • Our organizations have to be in the digital age. Dental students and young dentists want to access knowledge and conduct transactions in fast, easy and uncomplicated ways. We have to provide them with an easy, simple “Amazon” experience.

Watch the video interview


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