Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Dental Care Shortage by Region

As of September 2020, an estimated 60 million Americans lived in areas designated as a dental care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  A geographic area, population group, or facility, residents of dental care HPSAs have poor access to basic dental health services because the area lacks a sufficient number of Dentists and dental auxiliaries (any non-dentist staff employed by the dentist to assist in the operation of the practice). HRSA designation criteria is based upon the population within the HPSA relative to the number of dental care providers that service the area. Although the population-to-provider ratio needed to qualify for designation varies by HPSA type (geographic, population or facility), all HPSAs with a dental care shortage designation have a population-to-provider ratio that meets or exceeds certain limits set by federal regulations.  As of September 2020, the HRSA estimates that all dental care shortage areas in the U.S. would need just over 10,700 more practitioners to eliminate all such shortage designations.

Here is a summary look at the dental care shortage by region (for state-level details, follow the "region" link):

Region (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
Far West
1,173 5,522.0 1,016
Great Lakes
811 8,369.4 1,536
Great Plains
1,003 3,787.9 707
384 6,288.9 1,168
New England
225 1,268.1 196
Rocky Mountain
410 2,446.4 334
1,663 24,669.8 4,529
772 7,115.2 1,123
U.S. Territories
46 473.4 107
U.S. 6,487 59,941.1 10,716

(1) Designated Geographic, Population Group and Facility HPSAs with a dental care shortage
(2) Population of designated HPSAs, in thousands
(3) Dental Care practitioners needed to remove HPSA Designation

Source:  Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary, 9/30/20 (HRSA)