The Economics of Oral Health and Health Care

28 Pages Posted: 28 May 2015

See all articles by Stephen Birch

Stephen Birch

McMaster University

Stefan Listl

MEA - University of Mannheim

Date Written: May 20, 2015


This paper describes the principles of economics and their application to oral health and health care. After illustrating the economic determinants of oral health, the demand for oral health care is discussed with particular reference to asymmetric information between patient and provider. The reasons for the market failure in (oral) health care and its implications for efficiency and equity are explained. Moreover, it is described how economic evaluation can be used to maximize oral health gains in scenarios of scarce resources. The behavioural aspects of patients' demand for and dental professionals' provision of oral health services are discussed. Finally, methods for an optimized planning of the dental workforce are discussed.

Keywords: Oral health production, scarce resources, asymmetric information, opportunity cost, equity, efficiency, economic evaluation, QATY, ICER, willingness-to-pay, provider payment, supplier-induced demand, dental insurance coverage, dental workforce

Suggested Citation

Birch, Stephen and Listl, Stefan, The Economics of Oral Health and Health Care (May 20, 2015). Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy Discussion Paper No. 07-2015, Available at SSRN: or

Stephen Birch (Contact Author)

McMaster University ( email )

1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4M4

Stefan Listl

MEA - University of Mannheim ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
+49 621 181 1864 (Phone)
+49 621 181 1863 (Fax)

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