Three-thirds of patients express a specific preference towards dentist’s gender, according to results from recent polls conducted by DentaVox. A male dentist is a slightly more popular choice, favoured by 42% of respondents. In comparison, one-third of respondents would rather opt for a female dentist, and dentist’s gender is not an issue for just 25% of participants.

These findings are part of a series of daily polls focused on patient attitude towards different characteristics of dentists and dental practices. Other key findings indicate that most patients prefer dental clinics over solo-practices, especially when it comes to more complicated treatments.

The infographic below illustrates the main results in more details, covering the following five aspects:

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Patient preference towards dentist’s gender

According to poll results, only 25% of respondents believe dentist’s gender is of no significance. Moreover, the findings indicate a bias in favour of male dentists. However, these findings do not touch upon regional and cultural differences, which are likely to have significant influence, as well as dental care-related factors such as dental specialty and dental fear. 

For example, previous research in the United States revealed that  79% of males and 59% of females express no preference towards dentist’s gender despite the fact that almost 80% of dentists in the US are male. In comparison, a study in Saudi Arabia found that for women dentist’s gender did not matter while men favored male dentists. Moreover, they were also a more popular choice for certain specialty treatments such as oral surgery, implants, endodontics. Females dominated the patient’s choice only in the field of pediatric dentistry. 

In terms of the relationship with dental anxiety, a previous study with children showed that children with dental fear prefer female dentists while non-anxious kids do not express gender preferences. 

Dentist’s age as a factor for patient’s choice

While half of respondents place their confidence in younger dentists. On the other hand, nearly the same share would rather visit an elder dental specialist. With no clear winner in general, it will be interesting to look into how other factors may tip the scales in favor of one of the age groups. For instance, do patients prefer dentists from their own age group? There is already some research in that direction. However, it is focused on a specific type of dental specialist. A study found that children and young adolescents prefer young female orthodontics while adults show no age or gender preference. A DentaVox survey coming at the beginning of January will explore the subject in more detail.

Attitude to treatment by dental students

The majority of participants in the poll are willing to go for treatment by a dental student. Not surprisingly, the main drivers are financial savings and free dental care. Nevertheless, one-third of respondents remain skeptical and will not trust their dental health to students. 

Past experience is a possible reason for their reluctance, although patient satisfaction with dental treatment by students is high according to various studies.

Patient’s acceptance of oral surgery by a robot

Robotic surgery may hold promise in terms of the clinical outcomes but patients are not ready to embrace it. Only 13% of respondents would choose a robot over human to perform complicated oral surgery. Currently, there is a gap in research in this subject in the field of dentistry. It may prove useful to look into what factors may affect a patient’s point of view.

Tendency to choose dental clinic or solo practice

Despite the dominance of small solo practices in most markets, the majority of participants in the poll favor dental clinics over independent solo practitioners. Their preference for clinics is even more prominent when it concerns complex treatments. In the changing landscape of increase in group practices and dental chains, these findings sound encouraging to investors in the sector.

What’s next?

The poll results provided interesting insights and will be a starting point for future research by DentaVox. A new survey on patient choice of dentist coming out at the beginning of next year will explore these aspects further. Subscribe to our newsletter to get free access to live stats immediately when results are released.