A new study finds that the supply of pediatric dentists is growing more readily than is demand. The study, published in The Journal of the American Dental Association and sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, pointed out that “growth in demand could increase if pediatric dentists captured a larger share of pediatric dental services or if children who are underserved had oral health care use patterns similar to those of the population with fewer barriers to access.”
The study’s authors looked at the current rate of pediatric dentists entering the workforce and the delivery of oral health care. Projecting out, they predicted that the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) pediatric dentists will be 4,030 by 2030, whereas demand will increase by 140 FTE dentists by 2030. The researchers pointed out that if undeserved populations received greater access to care or if pediatric dentists provided a larger portion of services to children, then demand could grow by 2,100 FTE dentists or by 10,470 FTE dentists, respectively.
The authors recommended policy changes to reduce barriers to oral health care access, to continue pediatric dentists’ participation in Medicaid programs, and to urge early dental services to children.