Monday, February 22, 2016

Rural Iowa had 13% fewer dental practices in 2013 than in 1997; average age of dentists increasing

The average age of dentists in Iowa continues to increase, while the number of dentists in the state's rural areas continue to decline, statistics that need to be addressed to prevent a serious dentist shortage in the future, says a study by researchers with the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, Hayley Bruce reports for Iowa Now. From 1997 to 2013 the number of dentists in the state 55 or older increased from 23 percent to 42 percent. During the same time the number of dentists practicing in rural areas decreased from 49 percent to 36 percent. One-third of the state's dentists practice in three metro counties that account for 27 percent of the state's population. (University of Iowa map: Number of private-practice dentists in each county in 2013)
The study also shows that oral health in Iowa has shifted from solo practices to group practices, "with the proportion of Iowa dentists who work in solo practice declining from 59 percent in 1997 to 43 percent in 2013," Bruce writes. Raymond Kuthy, University of Iowa professor of preventive and community dentistry, told Bruce, “These changing demographics are likely to impact overall practice patterns, as well as the geographic distribution of Iowa’s dentists. People who go into group practice tend to wind up in larger communities because it provides them with a larger patient pool, better emergency coverage in the dentist’s absence, and the ability to vary their work hours." (Read more)

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