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Florida Faces a Crisis in Access to Dental Care

The recent data released by the United States Health Resources and Services Administration highlight Florida’s deepening dental crisis. Sixty-five of the state’s 67 counties are designated as dental health professional shortage areas, with more than 7.1 million Floridians residing in these areas. The shortage is exacerbated by a statewide dentist-to-population ratio below the national average, with some counties having ratios as low as 1/10th of the national average. Consequently, many Floridians resort to expensive emergency care for preventable dental conditions, costing taxpayers millions. To address this issue, dental therapy legislation (HB 1173 and SB 1254) has gained traction in the 2024 legislative session. Advocated by many public health organizations, dental therapy offers a promising solution by licensing mid-level oral health practitioners to perform routine procedures under supervision. Backed by ample evidence supporting its effectiveness, many suggest dental therapy could significantly increase dental access and improve oral health equity in Florida. As the state prepares for the upcoming legislative session in 2025, advocates are hopeful that dental therapy legislation will be a focal point of discussion to alleviate Florida’s oral health crisis. Click here for more information.

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