179725 Mapping the distribution of dentists in Kentucky using a Geographic Information System (GIS)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Daniel M. Saman, MPH , Epidemiology, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, Lexington, KY
Oscar Arevalo, DDS, ScD, MBA, MS , Division of Dental Public Health, University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, Lexington, KY
Kentucky (KY) faces an uneven distribution of dentists. In 2005, 99 out of 120 counties, had a dentist-population ratio lower than the national ADA figure of 6 dentists per 10,000 population. The shortage is particularly critical in the Appalachia region where the ratio is 3.8:10,000. The Medicaid population faces multiple barriers accessing dental care. In 2004, KY had 2,263 licensed dentists but only 937 billed Medicaid for services. In KY very few local health departments and community-based health centers, including community migrant, and homeless health centers have an oral health component.

Data on dentists' location from the KY's State Board of Dentistry, and socio-demographic and economic data from the KY Institute of Medicine and the US Census Bureau were utilized to assess the distribution of dentists throughout the Commonwealth using a Geographic Information System (GIS).

The dentistry workforce GIS research shows that there are disparities in the distribution of dentists in rural, urban, and Appalachian KY with private practitioners gravitating toward urban and high income areas. The poor oral health status of rural and Appalachian Kentuckians is aggravated by the lack of dentists in those regions (availability), limited dentists accepting Medicaid patients, and a lack of funding to pay for dental care (accessibility).

Understanding the distribution of dentists can result in policies and programs that address the maldistribution of providers and result in improvements in the infrastructure of dental public health programs. Availability of dentists and accessibility to the dental care delivery system would result in improved oral health outcomes.

Learning Objectives:
1. To clearly map the distribution of licensed dentists in Kentucky. 2. To empirically show exactly how much dentists gravitate toward high income areas. 3. To provide demonstrative evidence that Kentucky has a dental population maldistributed across the state. 4. Finally, to discuss and offer ways of equalizing the distribution of dentists in Kentucky.

Keywords: Access, Oral Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am finishing my MPH this May and am looking to go to dental school. I have no conflict of interest. I am a research assistant for the College of Dentistry Division of Public Health and for the UK Center for Drug and Alcohol Research. My master's capstone is on the distribution of dentists across Kentucky.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Oral Health Poster Session III
See more of: Oral Health