How Many Dentists Are in Solo Practice?

The Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association recently released its annual report on how many dentists are in solo practice in the U.S. In addition, it breaks down the trends on gender, by state, and age. Here’s how this information translates to your dental practice. 

About the HPI

The HPI is a thought leader and trusted source for critical policy knowledge related to the U.S. dental care system. HPI achieves this by generating, synthesizing, and disseminating innovative research on a variety of topics that are relevant to policymakers, health care advocates, and providers. The key issues that HPI focuses on include health policy reform, access to dental care, the dental workforce, dental care utilization and benefits, dental education, and oral health outcomes.


The trends are based on the ADA Health Policy Institute Survey of Dental Practice (1999–2009) and Distribution of Dentists Survey (2010–19). The Distribution of Dentists Survey results are based on three pooled years of data collection per data point. Results are for dentists in private practice only, while a solo dentist works in a dental practice with no other dentists.

All dentists

The results show fewer dentists are working as solo practitioners in the past year. About two in three dentists (65%) were in solo practice in 1999, while that proportion decreased to one in two (50.3%) in 2019.

By gender

The survey notes female dentists are less likely to be in solo practice, 40.8% of the workforce compared with 55.2% of males. However, the trends indicate female dentists will make up a larger proportion of the dentist workforce in the future. Of note, in 2019, 50.6% of dental school graduates were female.

By age

In 2019, only one in four dentists (25.1%) under 35 was in solo practice, compared to 28.6% in 2010. The survey notes dentists are increasingly practicing in groups, such as dental service organizations, particularly younger dentists.

By state

Each data point on the survey represents the estimated share of the dentist workforce composed of solo dentists with an interval for the estimated share. Idaho takes the lead at more than 60% in 2019, with South Dakota at less than 30%.

What’s next?

Contact the experts at Professional Transition Strategies to see how your dental practice stacks against the competition.