Projected workforce shortages: Dentists vs. physicians

More than 200,000 dentists will be needed to meet patient demand by 2030, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.

As the dental industry grapples with ongoing shortages, the demand across several specialties  is expected to grow, including general dentists, oral surgeons, endodontists and orthodontists. The HRSA projected in its "Oral Health Workforce Projections, 2017– 2030" report that 206,850 dentists will be needed by 2030. 

Workforce shortages have plagued several medical specialties in recent years as well, with the overall physician shortage expected to reach 121,300 by 2030, according to financial planning company Physicians Thrive's "2022 Physician Compensation Report." The report also listed projected physician shortages for 10 specialties through 2025: 

Cardiology: 7,080 

Ophthalmology: 6,180 

Orthopedic surgery: 5,050 

Urology: 3,630 

General surgery: 2,970

Cardiothoracic surgery: 1,800 

Gastroenterology: 1,630 

Hematology/Oncology: 1,400 

Pulmonology: 1,400 

Neurosurgery: 1,200

However, the American Dental Association's Health Policy Institute projected in a 2021 research brief a surplus of dentists by 2040, with the number of dentists per 100,000 population increasing from 60.7 in 2020 to 67.0 in 2040.

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