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Pediatr Dent. 2011 Mar-Apr;33(2):107-12.

A preliminary analysis of the US dental health care system's capacity to treat children with special health care needs.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Baylor College of Dentistry, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Dallas, TX, USA.



The purpose of this study was to use existing data to determine capacity of the US dental care system to treat children with special health care needs (CSHCN).


A deductive analysis using recent existing data was used to determine the: possible available appointments for CSHCN in hospitals and educational programs/institutions; and the ratio of CSHCN to potential available and able providers in the United States sorted by 6 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) districts.


Using existing data sets, this analysis found 57 dental schools, 61 advanced education in general dentistry programs, 174 general practice residencies, and 87 children's hospital dental clinics in the United States. Nationally, the number of CSHCN was determined to be 10,221,436. The distribution, on average, of CSHCN per care source/provider ranged from 1,327 to 2,357 in the 6 AAPD districts. Children's hospital dental clinics had fewer than 1 clinic appointment or 1 operating room appointment available per CSHCN. The mean number of CSHCN patients per provider, if distributed equally, was 1,792.


The current US dental care system has extremely limited capacity to care for children with special health care needs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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