The American Dental Association Health Policy Institute (HPI) recently published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive report, “The Oral Health Care System: A State-by-State Analysis.” The report includes data on all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the nation as a whole.

Nationally, the percentage of Medicaid enrolled children who visited a dentist within the past year increased from 29% in 2000 to 48% in 2013. As a result, the gap in dental care use between Medicaid enrolled children and children with private dental benefits narrowed significantly over this same timeframe in the vast majority of states.

The trend for adults differs dramatically from that for children, according to the national findings. Dental visits by adults with private dental benefits are declining in most states. (A separate HPI analysis shows that the gap in dental care use between Medicaid and privately insured adults is much wider than it is for children.)

Meanwhile, the findings show that 95% of adults say they value keeping their mouth healthy. Routine dental care is seen as a key part of overall wellness, with 93% of adults agreeing that regular visits to the dentist “help keep me healthy.” Additionally, 50% of adults responded correctly to a set of general-knowledge questions about oral health.

The supply of dentists per capita increased from 57.3 dentists per 100,000 people in 2001 to 60.5/100,000 in 2013. Other HPI research suggests this trend is likely to continue through 2033.

Each state report includes the most current available information on trends in dental care utilization (dental visits) for Medicaid-enrolled children, as well as for children and adults with private dental benefits; trends in the supply of dentists, including the percentage who participate in Medicaid; trends in reimbursement rates for dental care services in Medicaid and private dental benefit plans; and
percentage of the population with access to optimally fluoridated drinking water (among people on community water systems).

Each state report also includes results from a survey of nearly 15,000 US adults, measuring their “dental IQ,” self-reported oral health status, and attitudes toward the importance and value of good oral health.

The report is available at