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ADA Research on Workforce Projections and Barriers to Care

Number of Dentists to Grow

November 06, 2014

Contact Information:
Robert Raible

CHICAGO — New research briefs published by the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Health Policy Institute shows the number of dentists in the U.S. will continue to grow over the next generation.

Under the most likely scenarios, ADA’s model predicts that dental school graduations will exceed dentist retirements. The net increase of practicing dentists will exceed the corresponding growth of the U.S. population. The new report shows the number of dentists practicing per 100,000 people today has climbed more than 4 percent from 2003 to 2013 and is projected to climb 1.5 percent from 2013 to 2018 and 2.6 percent by 2033.

Further, an ADA analysis found that the percentage of the U.S. population reporting that they were unable to access needed dental care declined between 2003 and 2012. These declines occurred across all age groups.

Additional ADA research suggests that the most effective policy changes to address access to dental care would focus on more prominent barriers to care such as cost, geography and education. Barriers related to the availability of a dentist were reported much less often by a very small percentage of the population and declined in all areas.

As a leading advocate for oral health, the ADA conducts, facilitates, promotes, and critically reviews research on topics related to dentistry and access to care. The ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI) is a trusted source for critical policy knowledge related to the U.S. dental care system and innovative research of relevance to policy makers, health care advocates and providers within the U.S. dental care system.

The ADA continues to make an investment in this type of research because too many people face barriers to achieving good dental health.  The reasons are varied and complex and, through these analyses, the ADA helps inform the dental health dialog and the Association’s comprehensive set of solutions to make a meaningful impact.

The ADA Action for Dental Health movement includes initiatives to 1) provide care now to those suffering from untreated dental disease; 2) strengthen and expand the public/private safety net including advocating for reforms in Medicaid to expand access, and 3) bring dental disease prevention and education to communities.

Editor’s Note: Reporters are invited to follow the ADA on Twitter @AmerDentalAssn

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 163,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website