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ADA Health Policy Institute


Could you give me the ADA-recommended ideal dentist-to-patient ratio?

No. It is the ADA’s view is that a simple dentist-to-patient ratio cannot take into account the differing economic environments from region to region, state to state, urban to rural, so the ADA does not give any kind of recommended dentist-to-patient ratio.


How often do people visit a dentist?

In 2014, 52.3% of adults reported that they had visited the dentist every six months the last few year, 15.4% reported once per year, and 11.0% reported once every two to three years. More than one in five (21.3%) said that they had not visited the dentist in the last few years.

Among parents of children under 18, 64.6% reported that their children had visited the dentist every six months, 20.3% once per year, and 4.4% once every two to three years. Just over one in ten (10.7%) said that their children had not visited the dentist in the last few years.

When adults and children are categorized by health insurance status, the frequency of dental visits within the last few years varies.

Source: Key Differences in Dental Care Seeking Behavior between Medicaid and Non-Medicaid Adults and Children (Health Policy Institute Research Brief).


Why do people not visit their dentists?

Top reasons adults cite for avoiding the dentist include cost, fear of the dentist, and inability to find a convenient location or appointment time. Specifically, 59% of adults indicated that they forgo dental care due to cost, 22% because they are afraid of the dentist, and 19% because they cannot find a convenient location or appointment time.

However, when adults are categorized by age, household income, and health insurance status, the top three reasons for not planning to visit a dentist vary.

Source: Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States (Health Policy Institute State Fact Sheets).


How many people have untreated caries in the United States?

Between 2011-2014, an estimated 18.2% of children ages 5-18 had untreated caries while 26.5% of adults ages 19-64 and 16.7% of seniors over age 65 had untreated caries. Results vary by income level and race/ethnicity.

Source: Untreated Caries Rates Falling Among Low-Income Children (Health Policy Institute Infographic). 

Racial Disparities in Untreated Caries Narrowing for Children (Health Policy Institute Infographic). 


How many people have untreated gum disease in the United States?

An estimated 47.2% of adults over age 30 suffered from untreated periodontal disease between 2009-2010. Results vary by gender, education level, income, and other factors.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Periodontal Disease. Available from: