Limited economic analysis of dentistry


Dental diseases are very common and the cost of treating them places significant economic costs on society and yet the economic impact of dental interventions has received limited analysis. The aim of this review was to identify systematic reviews and meta-analyses on the economics of dentistry published between 1997 and 2011; judge the quality of the designs, search strategies, validity and data syntheses; and identify gaps in knowledge related to dental economics.

The search strategy for this review covered 14 databases; Cochrane central register of controlled trials , CINAHL, Cochrane database of systematic reviews, Cochrane methodology register of systematic reviews of healthcare and social interventions, DARE, EBM, EconLit, EMBASE, Health economic evaluation database (HEED) , HTA, JSTOR, Medline, National Health Service Economic Evaluation database (NHSEED and Web of Science  for the period from 1997-2011.  Two investigators read all of the titles and abstracts and included reviews and analyses in English relevant to both economics and dentistry for humans. No limitation was applied to the study design or the type of study included. Study quality was assessed.

  • 73 systematic reviews or meta-analyses with dental economics as primary or secondary outcomes were identified.  12 focused on the cost or cost-effectiveness of dental prevention, 54 on treatment, five on prevention and treatment and two on delivery of dental services.
  • Only 12 of the systematic reviews (involving 236 original studies) drew conclusions from economic data, and four of them constructed an economic model from synthesized data. Overall, the quality was good in the 12 systematic reviews but poor in the original studies.

The authors concluded

There is very little helpful data published on the economics of dentistry


Shariati B, Macentee MI, Yazdizadeh M. The economics of dentistry: a neglected concern. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2013 Mar 22. doi: 10.1111/cdoe.12047. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23521223.








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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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