Health United States 2020-2021

Dentists

Dental treatment and preventive services are key to treating and preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral diseases (1–3). The Health Resources and Services Administration notes that as of September 2021, 60 million Americans live in areas designated as having a shortage of dental health professionals (4).

Key Findings

Change: 2010 to 2020
Increase

The number of professionally active dentists per 100,000 resident population in the United States was 59.34 in 2010 and 61.04 in 2020, an increase of 2.9%. See Featured Charts for additional analysis.

SOURCE: American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute. Supply of dentists in the U.S.: 2001–2020. (Copyright 2021 American Dental Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.). See Sources and Definitions, American Dental Association (ADA) and Health, United States, 2020–2021 Table DentSt.

Featured Chart

In 2020, the supply of professionally active dentists varied by state and census division.

Figure is a map of the United States showing the number of dentists per 100,000 resident population in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for 2020.

SOURCE: American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute. Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001–2020. (Copyright 2021 American Dental Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.) See Sources and Definitions, American Dental Association (ADA) and Health, United States, 2020–2021 Table DentSt.

  • By state, the number of dentists per 100,000 resident population in 2020 was lowest in Arkansas (40.85), Alabama (41.27), and Mississippi (42.84), and highest in the District of Columbia (103.95), Massachusetts (84.22), and Alaska (80.01).
  • In 2020, states in the East South Central and West South Central census divisions had the fewest active dentists per 100,000 resident population, while states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific census divisions had the most.

Explore Data

Download the data

Active dentists, by state: United States, selected years 2001–2020

SOURCE: American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute.

Definitions

  • Dentists, professionally active: Data are presented for dentists in private practice; dental school (student, faculty, or staff member); armed forces or other federal services; state or local government; hospitals; graduate school (student, intern, or resident); or other health or dental organization. Dentists who are not licensed or are retired are excluded. See Sources and Definitions, American Dental Association (ADA).
  • Geographic division: The U.S. Census Bureau groups the 50 states and District of Columbia for statistical purposes into nine divisions, based on geographic proximity. For a list of divisions and their states, see Sources and Definitions, Geographic division or region.
  • Jenks natural breaks classification method: Modified Jenks categories minimize within-group variation and maximize between-group variation. See Sources and Definitions, Jenks natural breaks classification method.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral health in America: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: Office of the Surgeon General. 2000.
  2. Dye BA, Thornton-Evans G, Li X, Iafolla TJ. Dental caries and tooth loss in adults in the United States, 2011–2012. NCHS Data Brief, no 197. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.
  3. Fleming E, Afful J. Prevalence of total and untreated dental caries among youth: United States, 2015–2016. NCHS Data Brief, no 307. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.
  4. Health Resources and Services Administration. Health professional shortage areas (HPSA) dashboard. Shortage Areas. Rockville, MD. Available from: https://data.hrsa.gov/topics/health-workforce/shortage-areas.
Page last reviewed: August 12, 2022