Distribution of Australian private dental practices: contributing underlining sociodemographics in the maldistribution of the dental workforce

Aust J Prim Health. 2019 Mar;25(1):54-59. doi: 10.1071/PY17177.


The vast distances across Australia and the uneven population distribution form a challenging environment in providing the population with health and dental care. The Australian dental workforce distribution was analysed by using statistics from the open Census source available on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website. This study aimed to construct a detailed analysis of the large differences in the practice-to-population (PtP) ratios across Australia, as well as the effect of maldistribution for rural and remote areas, where economics plays an important role. The national Census data at the level of Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) (approximating suburbs) from 2011 was integrated with the location of all private dental practices in Australia (collected in late 2015) using modern geographic tools. All private dental practice (n=7597) location coordinates were mapped nationwide, across 2157 statistical areas. The population in Australia without a dental practice in their area was 31.6%. The PtP ratio differed from one practice per 40 people to one practice per 27773 people. The nationwide calculation of the PtP ratio shines light on issues about the dental workforce. The study results confirmed the uneven distribution of dental practices in rural and remote areas and socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Dental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dentists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Workforce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Private Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors