The Surprising Reason You Need to Know If Your Dentist's Office Is Open

Here's why a busy dentist's office is a major sign that things are turning up.

If your local dentist's office is busy post-lockdown, you've got reason to smile! The New York Times recently reported that dentists' offices serve as a bellwether for our economy: when the dental business is booming, it's typically a sign of economic stability. This would be very welcome news post-lockdown, given that so many Americans have lost jobs during the recent economic downturn, and economic anxiety has soared over recent months.

As the article explains, dentistry businesses are considered one of the most stable, given that they offer services that have no easy substitute, and there's never a lack of demand for their supply. In other words, if you need a cavity filled, sooner or later, you know where you're headed—the only question is when you will feel safe to attend an appointment, and whether you'll have the means to do so.

Woman getting her teeth looked at at the dentist's office

Indeed dentists were a clear signal that we were in for economic calamity when the pandemic first hit the U.S. According to data collected by the dental association, 45 percent of dentists laid off their entire staff by mid-April as the virus spread and made headlines around the country. Patient visits plummeted to seven percent their normal rates, a result of our cautious new lifestyles and strict lockdown policies.

Betsey Stevenson, PhD, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, explained her fascination with the business as an indicator of whether Americans felt ready to return to their daily activities, post-quarantine. "I'm obsessed with dentists because, if the only thing we're doing is putting the economy on pause, and then going back to normal, all of them should be coming back," she told The New York Times. "We're not really recovered until all the dentists are back to work."

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Additionally, whether Americans continue to have jobs that provide dental insurance—or the means to pay for procedures out of pocket—will be another crucial signal as to whether our economy is stabilizing. For those recently laid off and suddenly without coverage, expensive elective procedures will undoubtedly be put on the back-burner.

So, if you're wondering which direction the economy is heading, look no further than your local dental office. For once, it's good news if the waiting room is packed. And when you're ready to schedule an appointment, here are the 7 Precautions You Must Take Before Going to the Dentist Amid Coronavirus.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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