Dental coverage, access & outcomes

Explore ADA Health Policy Institute findings on dental coverage, access and barriers to care and oral health outcomes.
Profile of Dentists in Medicaid

Learn more about the demographics and practice characteristics of dentists who accept Medicaid and CHIP.

Medicaid patients per dentist graph coverage access outcomes HPI

Top publications

Medicaid FFS reimbursement for child and adult dental services by state – 2022 data.
How do privately and publicly insured patients compare in terms of dental procedures received?
See estimated cost of introducing an adult Medicaid dental benefit in all states that do not have one.
Journal articles

FAQs about dental coverage, access and outcomes

What share of U.S. children and adults have dental benefits?

Dental benefits coverage varies by age. For children ages 0-18, 53 percent have private dental benefits, 38 percent have dental benefits through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and 9 percent do not have dental benefits. For adults ages 19-64, 61.4 percent have private dental benefits, 15.7 percent have dental benefits through Medicaid, and 22.8 percent do not have dental benefits.

Source: National trends in dental care use, dental insurance coverage, and cost barriers (PDF) (HPI Report)
Does my state’s Medicaid program cover dental services for adult enrollees?

Dental coverage for adults enrolled in Medicaid varies drastically from state to state. The Medicaid Adult Dental Coverage Checker identifies where each state’s Medicaid adult dental benefits package falls on a continuum from "no dental benefits" to "extensive benefits".

Source: Medicaid Adult Dental Coverage Checker (CareQuest Institute for Oral Health).

How many dentists accept Medicaid?

Dentist participation in Medicaid varies by state. There are many ways to measure dentist participation in Medicaid, such as by enrollment in the program or by volume of patients.

Source: Dentist Participation in Medicaid: How Should It Be Measured? Does It Matter? (PDF) (HPI Research Brief).
How does dental care utilization among Medicaid enrollees compare to dental care utilization among commercially insured individuals?

Individuals who have dental coverage, whether public or private, are more likely to visit the dentist than those who do not have coverage. However, the types of dental procedures obtained vary by patient benefit type and age group. 

The types of services that children covered by Medicaid received are comparable to the services received by privately insured children. Among adults, those with Medicaid benefits had higher shares of more invasive services, such as oral surgery procedures, while privately insured adults had higher shares of preventive services.

Sources: Dental care utilization among children dashboard in Tableau.
 Comparative analysis of dental procedure mix in public and private dental benefits programs (JADA).

How many Medicaid patients have access to Medicaid dentists?

The Health Policy Institute has developed a tool for measuring access to dental care using geo-analytics for each state and the District of Columbia. Results report the percentage of publicly insured children living within a 15-minute travel time to at least one Medicaid/CHIP dentist per 2,000 publicly insured children as well as the percentage of overall population living within a 15-minute travel time to at least one dentist per 5,000 population. Data are as of 2015.

Source: Geographic access to dental care (State fact sheets).

Does dental care utilization vary by race and ethnicity?

In general, White children, adults, and seniors have higher dental care use than Black and Hispanic children, adults and seniors. For all age groups, Hispanics and Blacks are most likely to face cost barriers to dental care.

SourceNational trends in dental care use, dental insurance coverage, and cost barriers (PDF) (HPI Report)

How many people have untreated caries in the United States?

About 1 in 5 adults (21.3%) have untreated dental caries, according to 2017-2020 data.

Sources: Update on the prevalence of untreated caries in the US adult population, 2017-2020 (JADA).

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

An estimated 42% of adults over age 30 suffered from untreated periodontal disease between 2009-2014. Results vary by gender, education level, income, and other factors.

Source: Periodontitis in US Adults (JADA).