This section is only one part of a larger tool created to help states
and communities develop a comprehensive document that describes their
burden of oral disease. Access other sections of the Tool in the
Table of Contents.
PROVISION OF DENTAL SERVICES
a. Dental Workforce and Capacity
The oral health care workforce is critical to society’s ability to
deliver high-quality dental care in the United States. Effective health
policies intended to expand access, improve quality, or constrain costs
must take into consideration the supply, distribution, preparation, and
utilization of the health workforce (see
star symbol indicates where state or community-specific information can
b. Dental Workforce Diversity
One cause of oral health disparities is a lack of access to oral health
services among under-represented minorities. Increasing the number of
dental professionals from under-represented racial and ethnic groups is
viewed as an integral part of the solution to improving access to care
[USDHHS 2000b]. Data on the race/ethnicity of dental care providers were
derived from surveys of professionally active dentists conducted by the
American Dental Association [ADA 1999]. In 1997, 1.9 percent of active
dentists in the United States identified themselves as black or African
American, although that group constituted 12.1 percent of the U.S.
population. Hispanic/Latino dentists made up 2.7 percent of U.S.
dentists, compared with 10.9 percent of the U.S. population that was
State Health Workforce Profiles from the National Center for Health
From the American Dental Education Association (www.adea.org*):
American Dental Education Association: Trends in Dental Education.
American Dental Education Association: Dental Education At A Glance
American Dental Education Association: Allied Professions
American Dental Education Association: Annual ADEA Survey of Dental
c. Use of Dental Services
i. General Population
Although appropriate home oral health care and population-based
prevention are essential, professional care is also necessary to
maintain optimal dental health. Regular dental visits provide an
opportunity for the early diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of oral
diseases and conditions for people of all ages, and for the assessment
of self-care practices.
Adults who do not receive regular professional care can develop oral
diseases that eventually require complex treatment and may lead to tooth
loss and health problems. People who have lost all their natural teeth
are less likely to seek periodic dental care than those with teeth,
which, in turn, decreases the likelihood of early detection of oral
cancer or soft tissue lesions from medications, medical conditions, and
tobacco use, as well as from poor-fitting or poorly maintained dentures.
Persons with visits to the dentist in the last 12 months are shown in
Table XII. Proportion of Persons Aged 2 Years and Older Who Visited a
Dentist in the Previous 12 Monthsa
||Dental Visit in Previous Year
|Race and ethnicity
|American Indian or Alaska Native
|Asian or Pacific Islander
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
|Black or African American
|Hispanic or Latino
|Not Hispanic or Latino
Black or African American, not Hispanic or Latino
White, not Hispanic or Latino
|Education Level (persons aged 25 years and over)
|Less than high school
|High school graduate
|At least some college
|Persons with disabilities
|Persons without disabilities
|Children aged 2 to 17 years
|Children at first school experience (aged 5 years)
|3rd grade students
|Children, adolescents, and young adults aged 2 to 19 years
<200% of poverty level
|Adults aged 18 years and older
|Adults aged 65 years and older
|Dentate adults aged 18 years and older
|Edentate adults 18 and older
|Adults aged 18 years and older with disabilities
Table XII Sources:
Healthy People 2010, Progress Review, 2004. U.S. Department of Health and
(Excel – 148k).
These data are released annually. The most current national data are
available from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey at
More recent data for HP2010 are available from DATA 2010, the
Healthy People 2010 database at:
DNA = Data not analyzed
* National data are for 2000.
a Age-adjusted to 2000 U.S. standard population.
b Data are for children aged 5–6 years.
c Data are for children aged 8–9 years.
d <State Data Source(s)>
ii. Special Populations
Schoolchildren / Pregnant Women
[More recent data are available at
If available, include state YRBS data or other state data on dental
Schoolchildren / Pregnant Women
Studies documenting the effects of hormones on the oral health of
pregnant women suggest that 25–100 percent of these women experience
gingivitis and up to 10 percent may develop more serious oral infections
[Amar & Chung 1994; Mealey 1996]. Recent evidence suggests that oral
infections such as periodontitis during pregnancy may increase the risk
of preterm or low birthweight deliveries [Offenbacher et al. 2001].
During pregnancy, a woman may be particularly amenable to disease
prevention and health promotion interventions that could enhance her
health or that of her fetus [Gaffield et al. 2001].
d. Dental Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs
Medicaid is the primary source of health care for low-income families,
the elderly and disabled persons in the United States. This program
became law in 1965 and is jointly funded by the federal and state
governments (including the District of Columbia and the Territories) to
assist states in providing medical, dental, and long-term care
assistance to people who meet certain eligibility criteria. People who
are not U.S. citizens can receive Medicaid only to treat a
life-threatening medical emergency; eligibility is determined on the
basis of state and national criteria. Dental services are a required
service for most Medicaid-eligible individuals under the age of 21
years, as a required component of the Early and Periodic Screening,
Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit. Services must include, at a
minimum, relief of pain and infections, restoration of teeth, and
maintenance of dental health. Dental services may not be limited to
emergency services for EPSDT recipients [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
Nationally, federal Medicaid expenditures for Medicaid totaled $2.3
billion in 2003, or three percent of the $74.3 billion spent on dental
services nationally [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 2004].
MEDICAID ELIGIBLE CHILDREN
MEDICAID PARTICIPATING DENTISTS
SCOPE OF DENTAL SERVICES AVAILABLE
ELIGIBLE STATE RESIDENTS RECEIVING DENTAL SERVICES
STATE CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM (S-CHIP) PROGRAM DETAILS]
e. Community and Migrant Health Centers and other State, County,
and Local Programs
Community Health Centers (CHCs) provide family-oriented primary and
preventive health care services for people living in rural and urban
medically underserved communities. CHCs exist in areas where economic,
geographic, or cultural barriers limit access to primary health care.
The Migrant Health Program (MHP) supports the delivery of migrant health
services, serving more than 650,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers.
Among other services provided, many CHCs and Migrant Health Centers
provide dental care services.
Healthy People 2010 objective 21-14 is to “Increase the proportion of
local health departments and community-based health centers, including
community, migrant, and homeless health centers, that have an oral
health component” [USDHHS 2000b]. In 2002, 61 percent of local
jurisdictions and health centers had an oral health component [USDHHS
2004b]; the Healthy People 2010 target is 75 percent.
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Date last reviewed: August 2, 2010
Date last modified: August 2, 2010
Division of Oral Health,
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and