Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Health Care Marketplace

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

More people receive oral surgery from a general dentist than an oral surgeon, especially low-income and minority individuals

During 1996, slightly more than 14 million Americans made almost 20 million visits to dentists nationwide for oral surgery. Almost three times as many people had a general dentist perform the surgery as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (oral surgeon). This difference held for each socioeconomic and demographic category.

These findings suggest that dentists other than oral surgeons feel adequately trained or prepared to provide oral surgery and do so. Although the numbers tend to indicate that patients seem comfortable with this, some of them may not have a choice. Some patients may have far fewer oral surgeons then general dentists in their area, or their dental insurance plan may require the use of a generalist or pretreatment referral to an oral surgeon, explain Richard Manski, D.D.S., M.B.A., Ph.D., and John F. Moeller, Ph.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and James Hupp, D.M.D., M.D., of the School of Dentistry, University of Mississippi.

Nevertheless, minorities, people with less education, and low-income individuals were more likely to receive surgery from a general dentist than an oral surgeon than whites and people with higher incomes and more education. About 29 percent of whites versus 18 percent of minorities received surgery from an oral surgeon, while 75 percent of whites and 86 percent of minorities received surgery from a general dentist.

Low-income people also were more likely than those with higher incomes to receive surgery from a general dentist (81 vs. 73 percent), as were those with some or no school versus college graduates (80 vs. 70 percent). People who were 18 years and older were more likely to receive surgical procedures from an oral surgeon than younger people (28 vs. 20 percent). These findings were based on an analysis of oral surgical dental visits by members of 10,500 U.S. households that participated in the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

See "An analysis of oral surgical dental visits by provider type, 1996," by Drs. Manski and Moeller, and James R. Hupp, D.M.D., M.D., J.D., M.B.A., in the December 2002 Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontics 94, pp. 687-691.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 03-R024) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Return to Contents
Proceed to Next Article

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care