Health Policy

Relationship between community-level variables and number of general dentists

Kuthy, R.A.; McKernan, S.C.; Pooley, M.; Zimmerman, B.


Background. In this study, the authors used observational data from 2014 to evaluate the asso- ciation between the number of general dentists and several community characteristics.

Methods. The authors collected community-level characteristics from secondary sources for all 947 Iowa incorporated communities to study their relationships with the mean number of general dentists per 1,000 population per square mile (population density), the dependent variable. The authors used zero-inflated negative binomial models to examine the association between the dependent and predictor variables.

Results. Only 22.8% of communities had a dentist. Urban, young, well-educated, fluoridated communities with at least 1 elementary school had the highest estimated mean concentration of dentists. Isolated communities with older, less educated adults and lacking fluoridation and an elementary school had the fewest dentists.

Conclusions. Although population is an important determinant for where a dentist practices, other variables such as urbanization, demographic characteristics, fluoridation status, and presence of at least 1 elementary school are also predictors of the number of dentists in a community.

Practical Implications. These findings provide dental students and young practitioners useful information by highlighting community characteristics that are associated with office locations.


Kuthy, Raymond A, Susan C McKernan, Mark Pooley, and Bridget M. Zimmerman. 2018. Relationship Between Community-Level Variables And Number Of General Dentists. The Journal Of The American Dental Association. doi:10.1016/j.adaj.2017.11.007.