Dutch Dentistry: Trends & Developments

The Dutch dentistry market is an area of interest for professionals from other EU countries for several reasons. There are plenty of job offers, the quality of dentistry in the country is generally high, and the working conditions for dentists are nothing short of excellent.

There are, however, more interesting developments on the Dutch dentistry market beyond the scarcity of new graduates. In 2015, the Rabobank released a report that looks more closely at the latest trends in Holland’s dental sector. This report is not only relevant for people who already work here; it also provides important data for those who are thinking about coming to the Netherlands to start or continue their career as dentists.

Solo or Co-op?

Commencing with an analysis of the workplace itself, the researchers observe that, while the number of dental clinics available for acquisition is growing, there aren’t enough young, entrepreneurial dentists to take over these clinics from their retiring colleagues.

Perhaps this helps explain the rise of dentistry chains, which is also mentioned in the report, adding that “new parties such as private equity enterprises are interested” in these chains. Despite the tendency toward such franchises, individual clinics still hold a majority; only 5% of the approximately 6200 Dutch dental clinic belongs to a chain, but this number is only expected to rise in coming years.

Dentists – More Women, More Part-timers

The report also reveals some interesting demographic trends among the dentists themselves. Young women in particular are on the rise in Dutch dentistry. Of all the dentists who are younger than 40 years, more than half (56%) are female. Part-time workers and dentists who work on a self-employed basis (as opposed to paid employment) are also gaining momentum.

In spite of these developments, however, the total number of active dentists has been consistently declining since 2011 as a combined result of the sector’s ageing labour force and the insufficient number of homegrown graduates. It is for this reason that the Netherlands is a good destination for dentists from EU countries where the market is oversaturated. Accordingly, the report observes that the Dutch dentistry market currently depends on a considerable influx of other European dentists – primarily Spaniards.

Measuring the Density of Dentistry

Those who plan on coming to the Netherlands to work as a dentist should realise that, while professional opportunities abound on the whole, there are vast regional differences when it comes to job offers. The report illustrates this discrepancy by looking at the number of inhabitants per dentist in each region: in the metropolitan Amsterdam and Haarlem area, there are 1290 inhabitants for every dentist, whereas this number almost doubles in the less populated South-West of the country, soaring to 2515 inhabitants per dentist. Understandibly, finding a job in the metropolitan area, where there are more dentists relative to the population, is considerably more difficult.

What Patients Want

Before entering the Dutch dentistry market, it is also important to consider the patient’s side of the story, as a Dutch patient’s expectations may differ greatly from that of – for example – a Spanish one. The report states that Dutch people who go to the dentist (about 78% of the population goes at least annually), visit their clinic 2.7 times per year on average. As a result of this frequent contact between the patients and their respective dentists, most of the treatments are preventive in nature.

The researchers also observe that the demand for dental treatments will persist on the long term, notwithstanding the negative effects from the economy. One factor that contributes to this stability is the fact that people generally keep their natural teeth for a longer time instead of getting an artificial denture. With the population ageing as a whole, the number of complex treatments is expected to rise as well. The report also cites the popularity of make-over programmes on television as a contributing factor, with more and more adults opting for cosmetic treatments.

Your Opportunities

If there is one thought that emerges in unison from all the data mentioned in the Rabobank’s seven-page report, it is that there are plenty of opportunities for young, motivated dentists who live in EU countries which do not give them a decent chance to develop themselves professionally. If you have a specific plan, it is wise to take into account the regional differences that exist, as well as the varying popularity of different types of treatments. However, the demand for both dentistry treatments and personnel is expected to remain stable on the long run, so in the end there is plenty of work waiting for anyone with the right qualifications and mindset.

Written by Arjen Versteeg

Summary on dental INFO (Dutch)
PDF of full Rabobank report (Dutch)