The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Washington, recently released its latest estimates on the present and future adequacy of the dental workforce. The projection concluded that by 2025 there will be 15,600 fewer dentists than needed to serve the US population. In a commentary, the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Health Policy Institute notes that while the agency’s work in this area is commendable, the overall conclusions must be interpreted with caution.

“HRSA has developed a very useful empirical model. However, a critical assumption is that dental care utilization patterns will remain constant through 2025 and, in my view, this is inconsistent with the best available evidence,” notes ADA Chief Economist Marko Vujicic, PhD. Vujicic cites research showing there is significant unused capacity in dental offices and that dental care utilization has been falling steadily among adults for over a decade. “The data suggest the dental care delivery system in the US has the capacity to absorb more patients. In fact, there is compelling research to show that, in general, the main barriers to dental care have little to do with the availability of dentists.”

You can read Vujicic’s full comment here.