Dental health in 2022: The best and worst states

National dental provider Express Dentist has revealed its rankings of the states with the best and worst dental health. The comprehensive study ranked all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, giving each a score up to 100. It looked at 25 criteria, including dentists per capita, water fluoridation and mouth appearance.

The clear winner was Connecticut with a 4-point advantage, followed by the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Hawaii and New Jersey. The state with the worst dental health was Arkansas, followed by West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 

A look at the states with the best and worst dental health heading into 2022

Density of dental professionals is a crucial factor that varies widely per location. The best states have over 70 dentists per 100,000, while states like Tennessee and Oklahoma have fewer than 50.

Frequency of dental visits also varies between the states. Over 75% of adults in Connecticut visited a dentist in the last 12 months, while in Georgia and Indiana this is below 65%. The more frequently a person visits the dentist, the more opportunities to identify and resolve issues before they become serious.

One striking criteria was the percentage of older adults (65+) with all teeth removed due to decay or gum disease. This is just 6% in Hawaii compared to 26% in West Virginia.

Another ranking criteria compared the percentage of residents that report taking days off work as a result of dental issues. This is below 1% in Massachusetts, and is 4% and above for states such as New Mexico and Colorado.

Each state was awarded 1–4 points for each of the 25 scoring criteria, giving them an opportunity to achieve up to 100 points. Connecticut received 86 points in total; Arkansas received 42 points. 

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