Is Dental Care Becoming an Inferior Good?
A british health minister once claimed that the demand for health care is infinite because everyone is in a losing battle against death. This is not so for American dentistry, however. As aggregate US income levels have risen during the last 25 years, overall spending on dental care services has declined.
It isn’t that fewer Americans are seeing dentists each year. They just no not require as many fillings or extractions. As income rose, people purchased more expensive and effective toothpastes. More towns, cities, and counties began to fluoridate their water as the relative price of this anticavity agent declined, so changing relative prices have played a role. The higher incomes of their residents have permitted more municpalities to purchase flouridation systems. At every age, the average American now has two more teeth than 25 years ago.
For Critical Analysis:
Many fledgling dentists have begun specializing in “cosmetic dentistry” desired by clients with healthy but less than beautiful teeth. Compared to traditional dental care services, is cosmetic dentistry more or less likely to be a normal good?