Minnesota Dental Assistants Facts and Data 2005

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The Office of Rural Health and 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. 

Dental assistant workforce data has previously been reported for “urban” and “rural” portions of the state. Urban has been defined to include seven Twin Cities metropolitan counties (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington) and the cities of Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud. For 2005, data is also reported for three groupings that focuses greater attention on the 46 most rural counties:

  • MSA counties – 21 Minnesota counties included in seven metropolitan statistical areas (Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Cloud, Rochester, Duluth-Superior, Fargo, Grand Forks and La Crosse
  • Micropolitan counties – 20 counties surrounding smaller urban centers of at least 10,000 people
  • Rural – 46 counties outside MSAs and Micropolitan areas.  

In data tables below, shaded rows and columns are used to distinguish data reported under the old urban-rural definition from data reported under the new MSA-micropolitan-rural definition.

Numbers of Dental Assistants

In January 2006, there were 6,646 dental assistants with Minnesota licenses. Some of these were retired or not working as dental assistants, and many lived or practiced in other states.

Based on survey responses and licensing data from the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care estimates that approximately 5,100 dental assistants were practicing at least part time at Minnesota practice sites in early 2005. For explanation of this estimate, see the methodological notes at the end of this report.

Using the July 1, 2004, population estimate for Minnesota, 5,100 dental assistants equate to 99 active dental assistants per 100,000 people.

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 and Primary Care survey of dental assistants renewing licenses for 2005.

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Geographic Distribution of Dental Assistants Active in Minnesota

The distribution of dental assistants closely matches that of dentists. They are mostly located in metropolitan areas or other small urban areas (micropolitan areas).

 

chart shows geographic distribution of dental assistantschart shows rural/micro/metro division of MN population

 

Practice Setting

2004 Population

Percent of Population

Percent of Assistants

Urban

3,015,421

58.6%

69.1%

Rural

2,129,685

41.%

30.9%

Statewide

5,145,106

100.0%

100.0%

Metropolitan counties

3,732,499

72.5%

78.5%

Micropolitan counties

752,857

14.6%

13.6%

Rural

659,750

12.8%

7.9%

The green shaded rows distinguish data reported under the old urban-rural definition from data reported under the new MSA-micropolitan-rural definition.

Age and Gender of Dental Assistants Active in Minnesota by Location

  • At 99.6 percent, dental assistants are predominately female. Nearly all are female in rural and urban areas, as well as in most practice settings.
  • The dental assistant workforce is young, with a median age of 37 .
  • Forty-one percent of dental assistants are under age 35.
Age Group

 Statewide
n = 4,413 respondents

 Urban
n = 3,049 respondents

 Rural
n = 1,364 respondents

Metropolitan n = 3,464 respondents

Micropolitan n = 601 respondents

Rural
n = 348 respondents

Median age

37

37

39

37

38

41

Less than 35

41.1%

42.9%

37.2%

42.2%

41.1%

30.2%

35-44

31.6%

31.8%

31.1%

31.9%

28.5%

33.6%

45-54

22.2%

20.5%

26.0%

21.3%

24.3%

27.9%

55-64

4.6%

4.4%

5.0%

4.2%

5.7%

6.3%

65 and older

.5%

.4%

.7%

.5%

.3%

2.0%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

The green shaded columns distinguish data reported under the old urban-rural definition from data reported under the new MSA-micropolitan-rural definition.

chart of the age of active dental assistants


Practice Sites

  • Nearly 90 percent of dental assistants are employed in private solo or group dental offices.
  • Dental assistants in rural areas are more likely to be employed in solo private dental practices than are assistants in metropolitan or micropolitan areas. This pattern closely matches that of dentists.
Practice site

 Statewide

 Urban

 Rural

Metropolitan

Micropolitan

Rural

Respondents

4,405

3,042

1,363

3.456

601

348

Solo private

50.4%

46.2%

59.6%

47.1%

56.2%

72.4%

Group private

38.9%

41.2%

33.7%

40.6%

38.4%

22.7%

Educational

1.8%

2.2%

.9%

2.1%

.7%

.3%

Clinic (non staff HMO)

3.1%

3.6%

2.0%

3.5%

1.5%

1.4%

Hospital (acute care)

.3%

.5%

-0-

.4%

-0-

-0-

Institutional

.6%

.5%

.8%

.5%

1.2%

.6%

Public health facility

2.4%

2.2%

2.7%

2.5%

1.7%

2.3%

Staff model HMO

2.2%

3.1%

-0-

2.7%

-0-

-0-

Other

.4%

.5%

.2%

.5%

.3%

.3%

The green shaded columns distinguish data reported under the old urban-rural definition from data reported under the new MSA-micropolitan-rural definition.

Race and ethnicity

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

Race/Ethnicity

Statewide

Rural

Urban

White

95.8%

99.0%

94.4%

Black or African American

.8%

-0-

1.1%

Asian

1.6%

.2%

2.2%

American Indian or Alaska Native

.2%

.4%

.1%

Spanish/Hispanic/Latino

.6%

.2%

1.0%

Multiple Race

.6%

.1%

.8%

Other

.2%

-0-

.3%

The green shaded columns distinguish data reported under the old urban-rural definition from data reported under the new MSA-micropolitan-rural definition.
Of the dentists active at Minnesota sites, 1.7 percent did not answer the question; percentages based on only respondents who answered questions. Precise data not available for metropolitan, micropolitan and other rural counties.

Methodological note on numbers of dental assistants

Data reported here is from responses received from dental assistants renewing their licenses for 2005. Renewals were due January 1, 2005, so most dental assistants answered the survey in December 2004 or early 2005.

The Board of Dentistry received at least 6,253 renewals for 2005. This estimate is based on the number of active licenses in effect January 1, 2006, minus initial licenses and license reinstatements during 2005. The estimate is not precise because it may include some early renewals of licenses due for renewal in January 2006. The Board of Dentistry does not keep a count of the number of licenses renewed.

The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care received survey responses from 5,410 dental assistants renewing their licenses for 2005. At the time of license renewal, 4,413 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 87 percent of all dental assistants renewing licenses in 2005. 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 5,100. 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, 2005, population estimate for Minnesota, 5,100 dental assistants equate to about 99 dental assistants per 100,000 people.

Because of different data sources and definitions, this estimate of 99 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.

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Updated Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:28PM