OBJECTIVES: To estimate the proportion of dental visits and to explore determinants of oral health care service (OHCS) utilisation among US civilian non-institutionalised adults. METHODS: Cross-sectional data from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) were used to analyse adults' self-reported dental visits across potential risk factors (n = 22,721). MEPS uses a complex sample design including stratification, clustering, multiple stages of selection, and disproportionate sampling. These survey design complexities were taken into account for analysis in this study. The analysis was performed in SAS 9.2 and used chi-square tests and binary logistic regression. RESULTS: MEPS (2006) represented approximately 222 million non-institutionalised US adults. 42% (weighted) of this population reported a dental visit in the past 12 months. Dental visit numbers were observed to increase with age, with the 55-64-year-olds approximately 44% more likely than the 18-24-year olds to have visited the dentist in the past year. Hispanics were 48% less likely to report a dental visit compared to Non-Hispanic Whites. Respondents with public- or no- dental insurance were less likely to report a dental visit than persons with private dental coverage. CONCLUSIONS: Under half the US adult civilian non-institutionalised population reported a dental visit during 2006. To help address utilisation disparities, creative initiatives and systemic approaches aimed at groups currently utilising OHCS less often could be an important step towards oral health equity.