Purpose: Regular assessment of the dental workforce is essential to improve the population's oral health. This analysis aimed to understand the trends in the distribution of dentists and dental hygienists (DHs) in Virginia.

Methods: Annual survey data (2013-2022) of dentists and DHs from the Virginia Department of Health Professions Healthcare Workforce Data Center was used to examine the trends in provider distribution by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and geography across Virginia.

Results: In 2022, there were 5,720 dentists and 5,290 DH licensees in Virginia. In the dentist workforce, there was a high representation of those aged ≥60 years (23%), males (58%), and Whites (59%). On the other hand, the DH workforce has been predominantly females (98%) and Whites (76%), and the age groups were more evenly distributed. Black dentists and DH were highly underrepresented; compared to the 19% Black population in Virginia, only 6% and 5.2% of dentists and DH workforce were Black, respectively. Over time, several counties have seen a decline in FTEs in dentists compared to DHs. In 2022, 9 counties lacked a dentist/DH or both, and 79 counties had lower dentist and DH FTEs than the state average (0.5 FTE for dentists and 0.4 FTE for DH).

Discussion: Virginia's dentist and DH workforce have seen some diversification in the past decade, but significant work needs to be done to gain diversity and equity.

Conclusion and recommendations: The development of targeted programs and policies to improve professional entry, growth, and retention is necessary to maintain a sustainable, diverse, and representative workforce and address the oral health needs of Virginians.



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