French village’s comic advert to find dentist highlights wider issue

The amusing appeal masks a significant problem in France’s countryside

In rural France, many people struggle to find a dentist who has space to take on new patients
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A French village is hoping that its comic appeal for a new dentist will attract someone to the area before its current dentist retires.

Champlitte (Haute-Saône) has around 1,800 inhabitants and is nestled just north of Dijon and Besançon.

The village has four doctors, two nurses and an assistant nurse, three physiotherapists, a speech therapist, a psychologist, a podiatrist, a dietician but very soon no dentist with the only one in the village retiring.

That is why, following a meeting, locals decided to appeal to people’s sense of humour by publishing a humorous advert on Facebook.

Alongside a picture showing a woman who is definitely in need of some dental care, the post describes the village as being “very agreeable” and at “the centre du monde – or at least the centre of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté anyway”.

The commune is situated in a zone de revitalisation rurale, meaning that there are government tax incentives for people setting up business there.

The quirky job advert seems to have worked. The mayor has a meeting with one candidate already, France 3 reports.

Read more: French ‘medical deserts’: Mayor’s plea over lack of rural GPs

France’s rural dentist issue

Champlitte’s humorous approach to finding a new dentist masks what is an increasingly serious problem in rural France.

In several regions, including in Bourgogne Franche-Comté, new patients struggle to get dental work with all the dentists already full up looking after their current patients.

Earlier this year, one person living in Quimper (Brittany) reported phoning 65 different dentists without being able to get a single appointment, Ouest-France reports.

A report by France’s health ministry, published in November 2021, states that France has on average 62 dentists for every 100,000 people.

“This is below the rate that was available in the 1990s. It is also far inferior to the national European average in 2018, which was 74 dentists for every 100,000 people,” the report states.

It adds that in 12 of France’s departments there are fewer than 40 dentists for every 100,000 people.

In terms of regions, the worst affected areas are Normandy (42 dentists per 100,000 people), Centre-Val de Loire (44), Hauts-de-France (48) and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (48).

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