Demography and market impacts on dental practices’ development in Bulgaria during the period of transition 1990-2010
Objective. The purpose of this study was to present the impact of demography and market dynamics on the organizational and technological development of dental practices in Bulgaria during the period of socio-economic transition from 1990 to 2010. Material and methods. Relevant data were gathered from the official registers of the Bulgarian Dental Association, National Health Insurance Fund, National Health Information Institute and research studies, published during the period 1990-2010. They were analysed and are discussed in this paper. Results. During the period there was a decrease in population of Bulgaria, from 8,149,468 in 2000 to 7,563,000 in 2010 and a movement from rural areas to cities. There was an aging population with an increase in oral health care needs at a time of decrease in the size of the national labour force and economic growth. Paradoxically, over the last 20 years, the number of dentists in Bulgaria increased by more than 50% from 1997 to 2008. The average age of dentists changed from 39.7 years in 1997 to 41.7 years in 2008. The number of group dental practices increased and the number of individual practices and group practices for specialized dental care and dental centres decreased. The utilization of dental services is currently “about half ” that of the mean for all European Union Member States, which is over 80% per year. Conclusions. The growing number of elderly people who have retained their teeth suggests an increase in treatment needs. However, the decline in their purchasing power limits the demand for oral health care services. In order to meet this and other challenges Bulgarian dentists have started changing their traditional solo-practice to group-practice.
Dental demography; Dental service; Utilization of dental services.
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