Distribution of private dental practices and dentists 2011 and 2018: Analysis by regional area

Gillian Jean, Estie Kruger, Marc Tennant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether there has been a change in access to private dental services in regional and remote areas of Australia by comparing the distribution of private dental practices and dentists in 2011 to the distribution in 2018 according to state and territory and the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia Plus. Design and setting: A database of dental practices and dentists in Australia was compiled from open-access sources for 2011 and 2018; dental practices were mapped by state, Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia Plus and Statistical Area 2 census district and linked to population data. Main outcome measures: Change in number of private dental practices, mean number of dentists per private practice, population per dental practice and mean number of dentists per population by geographic location from 2011 to 2018. Results: There were more dental practices in rural and remote areas in 2018 than in 2011. The percentage of Statistical Area 2s without a private dental practice was lower in 2018 but remained high in rural areas and increased with remoteness—inner regional 23.1%; outer regional 31.6%; and remote and very remote 48%. Growth in registered dentist numbers did not match population growth, and on average, there were less dentists per practice in inner regional and remote and very remote areas by the end of the study. Conclusion: There has been an improvement in spatial access to private dental services in regional areas of Australia, but slower rate of growth of dentist numbers compared to population growth resulted in poorer access to dental services and large population numbers must still travel outside their local Statistical Area 2 census district to access dental care.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Oct 2020

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