Dentist Supply, Dental Care Utilization, and Oral Health Among Rural and Urban U.S. Residents: Exploring Changes in the Past 15 Years

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2021
Anticipated completion date:
October 2024

Compared to their urban counterparts, adults living in rural locations in the U.S. have higher rates of dental caries and permanent loss of teeth, and the lower availability of dentists in rural communities may contribute to this. Because of these concerns, expanding the supply of rural dentists and other oral health providers has been recommended to improve access to oral health care and improve the oral health of rural Americans.

This national study will describe the supply of the dental workforce in the rural and urban U.S. We will also investigate whether adults in rural locations report lower dental care utilization, higher prevalence of dental disease or both after accounting for dentist supply as well as demographic and other factors compared to those in urban locations. Finally, we will compare disparities in oral health measures over the past 15 years.