The dentist workforce

Insights from the ADA Health Policy Institute on the current and future supply of dentists and shifting demographics within the workforce.
ADA Health Policy Institute infographic U.S. dentist retirement age trends
Key workforce facts

Visualize trends of U.S. dentists by gender, age, ethnicity, practice type, and state-level supply.

Top publications

Compare racial/ethnic mix of dentists to U.S. population over time (PDF).
Research shows that the supply of full-time-equivalent dentists is growing (PDF).
How the dentist workforce can evolve to mirror the population it serves.

More research and insights

Infographics

Dentist workforce FAQs

How many dentists are currently working in the U.S.?

As of 2020, there are 201,117 professionally active dentists in the U.S. There are 61.04 dentists per 100,000 U.S. population. Ratios vary by state.

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2020 (XLSX).

Does the ADA have a recommended dentist-to-patient ratio?

No. It is the ADA’s view that a simple dentist-to-patient ratio cannot take into account the differing economic environments from region to region, state to state, or urban to rural.

For further explanation, see: Is the Number of Medicaid Providers Really that Important? (JADA).

How many dentists are female?

Among the 201,117 dentists working in dentistry as of 2020, 34.5% are female.

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2020 (XLSX).

What percentage of dentists are specialists?

As of 2020, about one in five professionally active dentists (21.2%) reported that their practice, research, or administration area is an ADA-recognized specialty.

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2020 (XLSX).

What is the age breakdown of dentists in the U.S.?

Among the 201,117 dentists working in dentistry as of 2020, 17.0% are under age 35, 24.0% are ages 35-44, 21.6% are ages 45-54, 21.1% are ages 55-64, and 16.3% are age 65 and older.

Source: Supply of Dentists in the U.S.: 2001-2020 (XLSX).

What is the racial/ethnic breakdown of dentists in the U.S.?

As of 2020, 70.2% of U.S. dentists are White, 18.0% are Asian, 5.9% are Hispanic, 3.8% are Black, and 2.2% are other race/unknown.

Source: Racial and Ethnic Mix of the Dentist Workforce in the U.S. (PDF) (HPI Infographic).

What is the average age of retirement among dentists?

In 2020, the average age of retirement among U.S. dentists was 68.2, close to 68.1 in 2010.

Source: Health Policy Institute analysis of ADA masterfile.

Does the ADA have future projections for the number of dentists in the U.S.?
The research brief Projected Supply of Dentists in the United States, 2020-2040 projects the future supply of dentists in the U.S. based on various sources of outflows from and inflows to the dental profession. Find full details in the brief.

Source: Projected Supply of Dentists in the United States, 2020-2040 (PDF) (HPI Research Brief).