Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Medicine

First Committee Member

David Cappelli

Second Committee Member

Karl Kingsley

Third Committee Member

Tanya Al-Talib

Fourth Committee Member

Linh Nguyen

Fifth Committee Member

Courtney Coughenour

Number of Pages



Access to care is a concern at the forefront of public health. Due to socioeconomic and geopolitical pressures, the distribution of healthcare providers across a population often does not coincide with the demand for healthcare in a specific geographic area. Rural areas typically do not have enough providers and urban areas typically have too many. This stark reality underscores an inherent inefficiency in the allocation of healthcare resources and is a discrepancy that must be addressed by state-sponsored institutions and programs. From a public health perspective, the problem of insufficient or lack of access to care is the greater of the two problems. Rural residents that require care face additional challenges that the urban counterpart does not readily encounter. They include the sheer lack of qualified providers that can address their specific concerns, lack of interdisciplinary care that is required for more complex medical and dental conditions, and higher costs associated with receiving this care, which may come from high transportation costs, long waiting time and long commutes. These barriers place unneeded pressures on the care seeker and can ultimately lead to aggravation of the medical or dental condition itself and poorer patient outcomes.

Geographic information system (GIS) mapping of the state’s general dentists and clinical specialists revealed an uneven per capita distribution of dental providers between the 17 counties in the state of Nevada as well as between the 55 zip codes of the Las Vegas Valley. The study found that 0.6% of Nevadan residents in the state lived beyond a 30-mile radius of a dental office and 1.7% of Nevada residents in the state lived beyond a 30-mile radius of a Medicaid-accepting dental office, with virtually all such residents living in a rural county. Moreover, the study found zip codes with a larger ratio of Medicaid-accepting dental offices in the Las Vegas Valley were associated with a greater percentage of children, minorities, and Hispanics in the population, as well as a lower median household income.


dentists; epidemiology; heatmap; medical; oral health; private practice


Dentistry | Geographic Information Sciences | Public Health

File Format


File Size

1794 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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