This article analyzes the effects of state dental practice acts on competition in the market for dental services. Three types of practice act provisions are examined: (1) restraints on advertising and soliciting of patients; (2) limits on scope of practice and number of dental hygienists per dentist; and (3) restrictions on the form of organization and ownership of dental practices.
The empirical results suggest that limits on number of offices per dentist and absence of reciprocal licensing arrangements are associated with higher fees and net incomes among dentists. Restraints on number of hygienists per dentist are positively associated with dental fees, but not with net income. Restrictions on commercial advertising are related to higher net income, but not fees. There is no significant intercorrelation among the various practice act provisions.
The analysis concludes with a discussion of policy implications for competition in dentistry and a suggestion that practice act changes are both a cause and an effect of the general metamorphosis observed in the dental marketplace. The potential indirect effects of national health insurance and altered reimbursement policy are discussed.