Dental Care Hard to Come By in Rural America
Approximately 15% of Americans reside in rural areas and a new report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality finds that professional dental care is often not easily accessed in these regions. The National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report noted that 75% of the 7,000 US regions designated as dental health professional shortage areas are rural. Children and adults residing in rural areas are less likely to have visited a dental provider in the past year than their urban counterparts. The report made some suggestions to help improve access to care in rural areas including increasing recruitment of dental students from rural regions, incorporating education on rural dental care into dental and dental hygiene curricula, offering tax benefits and/or loan forgiveness to dental providers who work in rural areas, training medical providers to provide some types of dental care, and implementing midlevel practitioners such as dental therapists. Click here to read more.