Minnesota Dental Assistants Facts and Data 2004

The Office of Rural Health & Primary Care asks dental assistants to answer questions about their employment status and the nature of their practices each year when they renew their licenses. Response to the survey is voluntary and does not affect license renewal.

NOTE: In the tables below, “urban” is defined to include seven Twin City metropolitan counties (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington) and the cities of Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud.

Numbers of Dental Assistants

In January 2005, there were 6,319 dental assistants with Minnesota licenses. Some of these were retired or not working as dental assistants, and many lived or practiced in other states. The Board of Dentistry received an estimated 5,736 license renewals due January 1, 2004.

The Office of Rural Health & Primary Care received survey responses from 4,959 dental assistants during 2004. At the time of license renewal, 4,027 of these said they working at least part time at a primary practice site in Minnesota.

The exact number of dental assistants actually practicing in Minnesota is not known. Survey respondents represented approximately 86 percent of all dental assistants renewing licenses in 2004. If active Minnesota-based dental assistants responded to the survey at about the same rate as all dental assistants renewing their licenses, the estimated total number of dental assistants working at least part time in Minnesota would be about 4,680. If active Minnesota dental assistants were more likely to respond to the survey, the estimated number of active Minnesota dental assistants would be somewhat lower. Using the July 1, 2004, population estimate for Minnesota, 4,680 dental assistants equate to 92 active dental assistants per 100,000 people.

Because of different data sources and definitions, this estimate of 92 active dental assistants is not directly comparable to other reported data. The Bureau of Health Professions in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration reported that Minnesota had 4,620 practicing dental assistants in 2000, or 94 dental assistants per 100,000 people, exceeding the national number of 89. This federal data appears to include licensed dental assistants practicing in states other than the state in which licensed.

All data reported below is for dental assistants who work at least part time at a primary practice site in Minnesota, according to the Office of Rural Health & Primary Care survey of dental assistants renewing licenses for 2004.

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Age and Gender of Dental Assistants Active in Minnesota by Location

  • At 99.8 percent female, dental assistants are the most female-dominated health profession in Minnesota. Nearly all assistants are female in both rural and urban areas, as well in every major kind of practice setting.
  • The dental assistant workforce is young, with a median age of 37.
  • More than 40 percent of dental assistants are under age 35.  
Age Group

Statewide
n = 4,027
respondents

Urban
n = 2,781
respondents

Rural
n = 1,246
respondents

Less than 35
41.3%
43.3%
36.8%
35-44
33.1%
33.3%
32.7%
45-54
21.0%
19.1%
25.3%
55-64
4.2%
4.0%
4.8%
65 and older
.4%
.4%
.4%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%

Primary Practice Settings by Location-Dental Assistants Active in Minnesota

 Most dental assistants are employed in solo private or group dental offices.

Practice Setting

All Dental Assistants

Urban
Rural
N=respondents

4,027

2,781

1,246

Solo private

50.7%

46.2%

60.8%

Group private

39.6%

41.8%

34.7%

Educational

1.8%

2.2%

.8%

Clinic (non staff HMO)

2.4%

3.0%

1.1%

Hospital (acute care)

.4%

.5%

.1%

Institutional

.8%

.8%

.7%

Public health facility

1.6%

1.7%

1.4%

Staff model HMO

2.1%

3.1%

-0-

Other

.7%

.8%

.3%


Primary Professional Activities and Duties

Patient care is the primary professional activity for 88 percent of dental assistants working in Minnesota.

Primary Professional Activity

Percent

Patient Care

87.6%

Administration

9.6%

Other

2.8%

Most dental assistants are responsible for infection control, developing radiographs and various laboratory procedures. Other common duties include handling waste materials and soiled work garments.

Dental Assistant Duties

Percent

Performing infection control measures

94.7%

Taking or developing radiographs

94.8%

Laboratory procedures

78.9%

Handling or transporting waste

48.0%

Handling or transporting soiled garments

36.2%

Sending out biopsy specimens

17.6%

None of the above

3.6%


Race and ethnicity

The dental assistant workforce is overwhelmingly white. Small numbers of racial and ethnic minorities work in urban locations.

Race/Ethnicity

Rural

Urban

White

98.9%

94.8%

Black or African American

-0-

1.5%

Asian

.3%

1.9%

American Indian or Alaska Native

.2%

.4%

Spanish/Hispanic/Latino

.3%

1.2%

Other

-0-

.2%

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Updated Tuesday, 16-Nov-2010 12:28:41 CST