The dental industry is trending right alongside the rest of America where retirement ages are concerned. In a nutshell, we’re working longer and longer before formally exiting the workforce.

According to the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute, the average dentist currently retires just before they turn 69, although back in 2001 their average retirement age was about 65.

Across the board, Americans are working longer. Why?

First, the positives…

One reason people in just about all sectors are working longer is that they are living longer and enjoying better health. Another reason might be that the nature of work has changed for many people over the years.

For the most part, it is less physically strenuous than it used it to be. People are also better educated, and the more education a person has, studies have found, the longer he or she is likely to keep working in their chosen profession.

Now, the harsh reality…

With the economy and the stock market so unpredictable, many people are retiring later because they worry they cannot afford not to.

A Gallup poll found that only 38 percent of the people surveyed, a new low, believed they would have enough money to live comfortably when they reach retirement age.

In an infographic published Aug. 20, the Health Policy Institute uses 2017 data to look at the exit rate for retiring dentists in the United States. Want to know how many years make up the average career span for dentists who retired in 2017? It was 42 years.

Note: HPI defines “exit rate” as the number of practicing dentists who retire, leave the U.S., let their license lapses, or who pass away over a 5-year period. Exit rates reached a low point in the years right after the Great Recession in 2008.

Interestingly, HPI also projects that the supply of dentists will increase faster than the U.S. population through 2037.

What does that mean? Patient retention will become increasingly important. Dentists will need to focus on providing excellent care and staying current in dental trends and technology to compete.