Quick Facts Oral Health in Minnesota

Quick facts
Oral Health in Minnesota

Health impact

  • Untreated tooth decay: 2 out of every 10 Minnesota third graders in public schools have untreated tooth decay1.
  • Total permanent tooth loss: 10.5 percent of Minnesota adults ages 65 and older are missing all their natural, permanent teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease2
  • Any permanent tooth loss: 35.6 percent of Minnesota adults ages 65 and older are missing at least one natural, permanent tooth due to tooth decay or gum disease2.

Oral health disparities

Untreated tooth decay: 5 out of every 10 American Indian children ages 6 to 9 and 13 to 15 in the Bemidji Area Indian Health Service area including Minnesota have untreated tooth decay3,4.

Untreated or treated tooth decay (caries experience) among Minnesota third graders enrolled in public schools are1:

  • 1.6 times more likely in public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility (lower income households) than with low free and reduced price lunch eligibility (high income).
  • 1.3 times more likely in rural than urban public schools.
  • 1.4 times more likely among Hispanic third graders than White, non-Hispanic third graders. 

Dental visits5: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend at least one dental visit each year, starting when the first tooth appears or no later than the child’s first birthday.    

  • Minnesota children under 6 years of age are 2.0 times less likely to have dental visits than children ages 6 to 17 years. 
  • Only 61 percent of Minnesota children ages 1 to 17 years living in low income households (100% of the federal poverty level) had a past year dental visit, compared to 85 percent of Minnesota children ages 1 to 17 years living in higher income households (400% of the federal poverty level).

Preventive dental visits7: Preventive dental visits include services such as x-rays, oral exam, dental cleaning, and fluoride treatment. 

  • Children under 6 years of age are 2.0 times less likely to have a preventive dental visit than children ages 6 to 17 years. 
  • In Minnesota during 2011 to 2012, children living in households below 100-percent of the federal poverty level were 1.4 times less likely to have a past year preventive dental visit than children living in households at or above 400-percent of the federal poverty level. 

Dental disease prevention

Dental sealants: A dental sealant is a plastic material applied to the biting surfaces of molars and premolars (back teeth) to prevent tooth decay, one of the most common chronic diseases among children ages 6 to 9 years. 

  • 6 out of every 10 Minnesota third graders in public schools have dental sealants on at least one permanent molar tooth1
  • In 2015, only 11.8 percent of children ages 6 to 14 years enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program (Medicaid) received at least one dental sealant on a permanent molar (back) tooth6.

Water fluoridation7: Drinking fluoridated tap water can prevent tooth decay.

  • 6,745,408 Minnesotans are served by municipal public water systems.
  • 4,165,301 or 70.4 percent of Minnesotans receive fluoridated water.

Adult dental visits: A visit to the dentist at least once a year can prevent tooth decay and identify dental diseases and oral conditions early.  Early treatment is usually less painful and less expensive. 

  • 74.3 percent of Minnesota adults ages 18 and older report having had at least one past year dental visit2.
  • 36.8 percent of Minnesota adults ages 21 and older enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program (Medicaid) received at least one past year dental service8

Children dental visits:

  • 76 percent of Minnesota children ages 1 to 17 years have had at least one past year dental visit as reported by their parent or guardian8.
  • 29 percent of Minnesota children ages 1 to 20 years enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program (Medicaid) received at least one past year dental service9.

Children preventive dental visits:

  • 76 percent of Minnesota children ages 1 to 17 years have had at least one past year preventive dental visit as reported by their parent or guardian8.
  • Only 23.5 percent of Minnesota children ages 1 to 20 years enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program (Medicaid) received at least one past year preventive dental service9.

Dental insurance: People with dental insurance are more likely to use preventive and other dental services.

  • 26.6 percent of Minnesotans are without dental insurance9.
  • 12.1 percent of Minnesotans had foregone dental care within the past year due to cost9.
  • 2.5 percent of Minnesotans reported having problems accessing a dentist within the past year10

Dental workforce

The number of licensed oral health providers currently working in Minnesota10:

  • 3,377 Dentists.
  • 4,698 Dental hygienists.
  • 6,373 Dental assistants.
  • 64 Dental therapists.

The overall dentist to population ratio is 1 dentist per 1,641 Minnesotans11.

  • 1 dentist per 1,601 urban residents.
  • 1 dentist per 2,153 micropolitan or large rural residents.
  • 1 dentist per 2,272 small town or small rural city residents.
  • 1 dentist per 3,938 rural or isolated city residents.

For more information

MN Public Health Data Access Portal—Oral Health


12015 Basic Screening Survey (third grade).  Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Program. 

22014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.  Minnesota Department of Health.

3Phipps KR, Ricks TL, Blahut P.  The oral health of 6-9 year old American Indian and Alaska Native children compared to the general U.S. population and Healthy People 2020 targets.  Indian Health Service data brief.  Rockville, MD: Indian Health Service. 2014.

4Phipps KR, Ricks TL, Blahut P.  The oral health of 13-15 year old American Indian and Alaska Native children compared to the general U.S. population and Healthy People 2020 targets.  Indian Health Service data brief.  Rockville, MD: Indian Health Service. 2014. 

52012 National Survey of Children’s Health.  Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

62015 Early & Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (CMS-416) Report.  Minnesota Department of Human Services.  

72014 Water Fluoridation Reporting System.  Minnesota Department of Health Safe Drinking Water Protection Section.

82015 Minnesota Health Care Programs Claims by County of Residence.  Minnesota Department of Human Services.

92015 Minnesota Health Access Survey.  Minnesota Department of Health, Health Economics Program.

10September 2016 Statistics of Licensees.  Minnesota Board of Dentistry.  https://mn.gov/boards/dentistry/public/statisticsoflicensees.jsp 

112015 Dental Workforce Statistics.  Minnesota Department of Health Office of Rural Health and Primary Care.