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Washington State Dental Association

Washington State Projected to Maintain Strong Dental Workforce

The Washington State Dental Association’s newly released 2012 Dental Workforce Report represents the most comprehensive picture of the state’s dental workforce ever taken. The report examines the current demographics of dentists and makes projections about Washington’s dental workforce for the next twenty years.

A key finding from the report reveals that Washington will continue to have a strong ratio of dentists to population. Washington’s current ratio is 71 dentists for every 100,000 Washingtonians exceeding the national ratio of 61 per 100,000. This ratio is one of the ten best ratios in the nation. The projected number of dentists relative to the population will continue to increase over the next few years, and then return to the ratio seen in Washington in the late 1990s and early 2000s – 66 dentists per 100,000 Washingtonians by 2032.

The report also highlights the increase in diversity among licensed dentists in Washington in regard to race and gender. Yearly cohorts of newly-licensed dentists are making Washington’s overall workforce more diverse. While the current overall workforce is 75.3% White, 19.8% Asian, 2.0% Hispanic, 1.7% Black, 0.4% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 0.8% other unidentified groups,  the 2011 cohort of newly-licensed dentists was 56.7% White, 31.7% Asian, 5.0% Hispanic, 3.3% Black, and 3.4% other groups — showing a decrease in the number of newly-licensed white dentists, and an increase in all other ethnicities.  Dentists licensed in 2011 for the first time were 41% female compared to Washington’s overall workforce which is 25% female.

Lastly, the report reveals that the percentage of newly-licensed dentists who were trained in-state at the University of Washington School of Dentistry (Washington’s only dental school) has fallen sharply in the last four decades, from 64% in 1972 to 22% in 2011. Previous dental workforce projections failed to incorporate dentists trained outside of Washington.  

“The 2012 Dental Workforce Report and its findings prove that the number of Washington dentists remains strong and will continue to be that way for decades,” stated Dr. Danny Warner, President of the Washington State Dental Association (WSDA). “While our dentist to population ratio exceeds the national average, the WSDA will remain dedicated to developing and implementing programs that expand and provide the highest quality of oral health care to all Washingtonians,” Warner said.

To review a copy of the 2012 Dental Workforce report, click here.

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