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J Am Dent Assoc. 1999 Apr;130(4):500-8.

Dental services: use, expenditures and sources of payment, 1987.

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  • 1Department of Oral Health Care Delivery, Dental School, University of Maryland, Baltimore 21201, USA.



This article provides per capita estimates of dental care utilization, expenditures, mix of services and sources of payment for each of several socioeconomic and demographic categories.


The focus of the analyses presented here is on dental care utilization by the U.S. population during 1987. Specifically, national estimates are provided for dental visits, expenditures, sources of payment and procedure type for each of several socioeconomic and demographic categories using household data from the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey, or NMES.


During 1987, less that 50 percent of Americans visited a dental office. Americans made approximately 292 million dental visits and received approximately $30 billion worth of dental care, of which $10 billion was paid by insurers, $17 billion was paid out of pocket and $1.6 billion was not reimbursed.


These analyses establish the magnitude of the dental care market and the amounts paid by individual patients, private insurance companies and Medicaid. They also reveal that the type of care received varies among people in distinct socioeconomic and demographic groups.


Although the dental care market is substantial, many Americans do not visit a dentist. By understanding these analyses, practitioners will be better positioned to meet the dental needs of all Americans.

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