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Visualizing Potential Effects of Dentist Retirements on Accessibility to Dental Care Among Children in Alabama, 2019


The figure displays a composite of 4 maps highlighting physical access to dentists among youth in Alabama. Map A shows the dispersion of the Alabama population under the age of 21 by using dots where each dot represents 664 youth. This map shows population density is highest in Alabama’s urban areas. Map B shows another overlay map highlighting the dispersion of licensed dentists by age at the county level using proportional dots and the percentage of licensed dentists within each Alabama county aged 55 years and younger. Information related to counties with less than 3 dental providers is not displayed. Maps suggest that most of the state’s licensed dentists practice in urban counties, and the proportion of dentists aged 55 and older appear to be higher in rural areas. Map C shows the number of dentists accessible within 30 minutes to a block group of 1,000 young residents. Many urban areas of Alabama appear to have at least one dentist per 1,000 youth, and most rural areas have less than one dentist per 1,000 young people. Map C also displays some low population rural areas in West Alabama where there are more than one dentist per 1,000 young people. Map D represents physical access to dentists per 1,000 young residents if dentists were to retire according to a simulated model. Urban areas appear to be less affected, compared with rural areas if dentists retire based on age. The areas displaying little to no access in Map D serve as areas to target for recruitment of dentists if dentists entering practices in those areas becomes low.

Four maps show the distribution of population and dentists in Alabama. Map A shows the distribution of the population aged 20 or younger; Map B, the distribution of licensed dentists by age across counties (counties with fewer than 3 dentists are not included); Map C, the number of dentists within a 30-minute drive of a block group of 1,000 residents aged 20 or younger, standardized by a floating catchment method; and Map D, shows access to dentists per 1,000 residents aged 20 or younger, as predicted by a Monte Carlo simulation of dentist retirements. Maps B and C include dentists’ data at the latitude and longitude point-level. Sources: 2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (8), Alabama Board of Dental Examiners (9), Rural Health Research Center (13), ESRI StreetMap Premium ArcGIS Pro version 2.5.0 (Esri), Python version 3.4 (Jupyter Project), and NAD 1983 HARN StatePlane Alabama West FIPS 0102 (Esri).

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Page last reviewed: February 4, 2021