Organized dentistry spent nearly a century laboring to obtain control over entry into the profession. The first attempt, the American Society of Dental Surgeons, failed because the issue of using amalgam so split the Society that collective action became impossible. The second attempt, state licensing during 1870–1900. gave preferential treatment (automatic licensing) to dental school graduates and appeared at first to be the solution to the entry problem, given the small number of schools in operation. However, dental school entrepreneurs recognized a profitable opportunity, and the supply of dental schools expanded rapidly. Thus, in the third and final attempt at obtaining entry control, organized dentistry attacked the for-profit schools. The dental practice acts were amended to require all candidates to pass a licensing examination, provided first that they were graduates of a school considered “reputable” by the state board of dental examiners. Moreover, rising costs generated by increased school standards took the profit out of for-profit operation, and by 1930 such schools ceased to exist. However, the competitive nature of the 1930s made altogether clear that entry control was a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the maximization of dentist profits, and thus organized dentistry began its turn inward, focusing on the competitive behavior of existing dentists.

You do not currently have access to this content.