Traditional and emerging forms of dental practice. Cost, accessibility, and quality factors

Am J Public Health. 1982 Jul;72(7):656-62. doi: 10.2105/ajph.72.7.656.


The traditional and predominant manner of delivering dental care is through a fee-for-service, private practice system. A number of alternative dental care delivery systems have emerged and are being tested, and others are just emerging. These systems include department store practices, hospital dental services, health maintenance organizations, the independent practice of dental hygiene, and denturism. Although it is too soon to draw final conclusions about the efficacy and effectiveness of these systems, we examine them for their potential to compete with and change the way dental care is currently delivered. Using the parameters of cost, accessibility, and quality, we compare these systems to traditional dental practice. Some of these emerging forms clearly have the potential to complete favorably with traditional practice. Other seem less likely to alter the existing system substantially. The system which can best control costs, increase accessibility, and enhance quality will gain the competitive edge.

MeSH terms

  • Dentistry / trends*
  • Group Practice, Dental
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Institutional Practice
  • Private Practice
  • Professional Corporations
  • Professional Practice / economics*
  • Quality of Health Care