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Study unveils Portuguese dentist crisis

dentist crisisAlmost 20% of Portuguese dentists are working abroad, with more than 1500 dentists already working exclusively in other countries, while the number of foreign students studying dentistry in Portugal has doubled in the last four years.

The data is from a study carried out by the Order of Medical Dentists, which points to over 1500 professionals working exclusively in other countries. Around 9,300 Portuguese dentists work in Portugal and 327 work simultaneously in Portugal and abroad. “

In another more detailed survey which was carried out more recently, the number of dentists practicing outside Portugal is substantially higher than what was stated by the statistics of the Order. At least 1,500 work outside Portugal.

“It means that about 20% of our dentists are working abroad,” said the chairman of the Order, Orlando Monteiro da Silva.

He points out that “Portugal cannot retain its dentists because it does not have the conditions to pay them good enough salaries to make them want to stay in the country”, despite the country having a “problem with access to oral health”, with many Portuguese receiving no access to care.

England, France, Switzerland and Germany are some of the main destinations for Portuguese dentists, and outside the European emigration to the United States or the United Arab Emirates is beginning to grow.

Alongside this, the number of foreign students studying dentistry in Portuguese universities has increased significantly, representing 33% of the total, while in 2015 they represented only 15%. There is even one university that has more foreigners than Portuguese students attending the dental school – the University Institute of Health Sciences, in the north of the country.

“The number of students in universities has increased overall. The percentage of Portuguese has decreased and the foreigners increased. A few years ago, the students were almost all Portuguese and were staying in Portugal. In five or six years everything has changed radically”, underlines the chairman of the Order.

“Most foreign students have French, Spanish or Italian nationality and, after graduation, return to their home country to work,” he reveals.

Moreover, Orlando Monteiro da Silva expresses that this is paradigm shift in universities reflects the international recognition of dentistry education. He recalls that Portugal already has a ratio of dentists below what is deemed satisfactory by the World Health Organization, which recommends a dentist for every 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants.