Trends in Postgraduate Dental Training in the United States


Timothy Bates, Matthew Jura, Miranda Werts, Aubri Kottek, Bradley Munson, Marko Vujicic, and Elizabeth A. Mertz

September 27, 2022


This study examines the individual, educational, and policy factors that predict dentists pursuing postgraduate dental (PGD) training.


Individual dentist records from the 2017 American Dental Association Masterfile were linked with pre-doctoral training attributes and state-level dental policy factors. Generalized logistic models, adjusted for individual, educational, and policy factors, were used to predict: (1) attending any PGD program, and (2) primary (i.e., advanced general practice, pediatrics, or dental public health, per the Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA]) versus specialty care.


The majority of new PGD residency slots (77%) were in primary care. Women held 56% of primary care slots; men held 62% of specialty slots. Individual characteristics that predicted PGD primary care training included being Black, Hispanic, Asian, or other race; being male or older age reduced the odds. Pre-doctoral school characteristics that predicted PGD primary care training included having a pre-doctoral HRSA grant, affiliation with an academic medical center, and being a historically Black college/university; being a private school or in a small metro area lowered the odds. At the policy level, the strongest predictors of attending PGD primary care training are a residency requirement in the state you currently practice in and federal graduate medical education (GME) investment per residency slot.


Pursuing PGD training is variable based on the race/ethnicity/gender of the dentist. Federal investments in pre-doctoral dental education and GME can drive equity, as they significantly increase the odds that dentists will go on to PGD training, as do state licensure requirements.