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Preventative Care

Increase the number of dental care providers per 100,000


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Story Behind the Curve

Source: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/dental_provider/state/IN     Last accessed 6/29/2022

Dental Care Providers

U.S. Value: 62.3

Healthiest State: Alaska: 92.0

Least-healthy State: Delaware: 39.6

Definition: Number of general dentists and advanced practice dental therapists per 100,000 population

Data Source & Year(s): U.S. HHS, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, September 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of U.S. HHS, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, National Plan and Provider Enumeration System, United Health Foundation, AmericasHealthRankings.org, accessed 2022.


Oral health provides a window into general health. Many underlying health conditions, such as eating disorders, diabetes and immune disorders, have close connections to oral health. Dentists diagnose oral diseases, create treatment plans, promote oral health and disease prevention, perform surgical procedures and manage oral trauma. 

Oral infections and periodontal (gum) disease are associated with diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Despite projections of steady growth in the number of working dentists, the Health Resources and Services Administration has identified many areas and populations that have an inadequate supply of dentists to meet current or future needs.


Some of the most significant oral health disparities are in rural communities. Disparities in oral health care contribute to higher rates of dental caries and edentulism (toothlessness) in rural populations compared with urban populations. Contributing factors to these disparities include:

  • An inadequate supply of dentists.
  • Higher uninsurance rates and fewer dentists accepting Medicaid patients.
  • Patient difficulty in traveling to a dentist.
  • Poverty.
  • Lack of a fluoridated community water supply.
  • A growing population of older adults.


Healthy People 2030 has multiple objectives related to oral health, including increasing the use of the oral health care system and reducing the proportion of people who can’t get the dental care they need when they need it.

What Works


Strategies to increase the size of the dental workforce, particularly in rural communities, include: 

  • Expanding the roles of dental therapists, hygienists and assistants.
  • Targeting dental school recruitment efforts for rural and in-state students.
  • Training general/family practice physicians and primary care providers to conduct oral health exams and place fluoride varnish/sealants on children.
  • Establishing medical/dental mobile units for outreach services.
  • Teledentistry.
  • Strengthening incentives and educational loan repayment offers for dentists who choose to work in rural areas. 

Source: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/dental_provider/state/IN Last accessed 6/29/2022

Corrective Action

2021-2018: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/dental_provider/state/IN?edition-year=2021 (Graph for dental care providers)

2017-2014: https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/dentists/state/IN?edition-year=2018

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy