Dentist shortage in the US to worsen
WASHINGTON, USA: The demand for dental care services in the U.S. is projected to grow on a national level, mainly owing to demographic changes. However, a new report has forecast that all 50 U.S. states will have a shortage of dental professionals in the near future. Based on dental workforce data from 2012, it is predicted that the excess growth in demand in relation to dentist supply will result in a national shortage of approximately 15,600 dentists in 2025.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which issued the report in February, about 190,800 dentists were active in the workforce in the U.S. in 2012. The supply of dentists is expected to grow to 202,600 in 2025. The demand for dentists, however, is projected to increase from 197,800 in 2012 to 218,200 in 2025. California, Florida and New York are the states expected to experience the greatest shortfalls in the number of dentists in 2025, with 1,234, 1,152, and 1,024, respectively, fewer professionals than needed.
The department concluded that this unmet demand would likely exacerbate access problems for underserved populations. According to figures from 2013, over 46 million people in the U.S. currently live in areas with a shortage of dental health professionals, and thus lack basic access to dental care. It is estimated that a total of about 15,600 additional dentists may be required to meet the actual demand in 2025.
With regard to dental hygienists, however, the U.S. department forecasts an excess supply because the number of dental hygienists is expected to grow from 153,600 in 2012 to 197,200 in 2025, while the demand for these professionals is projected to reach only 169,100 in 2025.
According to the investigators, changes in oral health care delivery and in health systems may help ameliorate dentist shortages. They stated that the expanding role of dental hygienists could reduce the projected dentist shortage if they are effectively integrated into the delivery system.
The report, titled “National and state-level projections of dentists and dental hygienists in the U.S., 2012–2025,” was published online on the HRSA website.