Wisconsin Dental Association: New study shows sufficient dental work force through 2020 with maldistribution a persistent challenge

CONTACT: Carol S. Weber, APR, Director of Public Relations

PHONE: 414-755-4108 (direct) or 414-315-9321 (cell on Jan. 20)

E-MAIL: [email protected]

WEST ALLIS, WIS., Jan. 20, 2010 – State government officials and oral health advocates will join Wisconsin Dental Association representatives in the North Hearing Room of the State Capitol in Madison from 10 a.m. to noon today to hear an overview of the “Supply and Demand for Dental Services: Wisconsin 2010 – 2020” study results.

University of Connecticut researchers Howard Bailit, D.M.D., Ph.D., and Tryfon Beazoglou, Ph.D. will share highlights from their year-long study and then take questions from the audience.

This new report indicates Wisconsin currently has enough dentists to meet the economic demand for access to quality dental services.

In some areas of the state, however, access to dental care for low-income and uninsured individuals and persons in the state’s growing medical assistance programs is a challenge due to underfunding by the government and the economic reality that dentists, as small-business owners, tend to settle where economic demand for their services remains high.

One other important piece of news in this report is Wisconsin dentists are very efficient and productive. They utilize dental hygienists and assistants much more effectively than their counterparts nationally.

“These two basic findings alone give us confidence that if we can find and implement programs that build upon the existing dental care delivery system, we can address the access problems in our state in a manner that is both efficient and ensures high quality care,” notes WDA President Dr. Kent Vandehaar of Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Bailit and Beazoglou note in their report, “Finally, it bears repeating that just increasing the number of dentists in the state without increasing demand will have little impact of reducing access disparities. Most of the new dentists will locate in the more affluent counties and mainly treat patients that can pay for their services. If they cannot make an adequate income with this strategy, most will move to other states.”

“To reduce disparities, the state needs to provide the underserved population financial resources to purchase the care in the private system or greatly expand the safety net system. In either case, the state will be required to substantially increase Medicaid dental budgets,” add the researchers.

“Expanding dental access to these areas and people should be a top priority for our state. It’s a problem none of us can solve alone. Rather, it will take the dental profession, government, community organizations and patients working together to identify and implement timely, cost-effective solutions that will make oral health care accessible to people and areas of the state where it is not easily obtained today,” says Vandehaar.

The WDA commissioned this independent research to provide data on both the current dental work force and to project future needs in Wisconsin. Delta Dental of Wisconsin supported this follow-up to the 2001 Wisconsin dental work force study, which was conducted by the same research team, with a grant of $87,000.

The complete 2010 – 2020 Wisconsin Dental Work Force Study is available online on WDA.org via a link on the left-hand side of the home page.

The Wisconsin Dental Association was established in 1870. With more than 2,900 members statewide, the WDA represents 83 percent of all licensed, practicing dentists in Wisconsin. WDA members are committed to promoting professional excellence and quality oral health care. The WDA is headquartered in West Allis and has a legislative office in Madison. It is one of 53 constituent (state-territorial) dental societies of the American Dental Association – the largest and oldest national dental association in the world. For more information on the WDA, call 414-276-4520, visit our WDA.org Web site and find us on Facebook.