Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Does Missouri have enough dentists? In some counties, there are none...

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There are more dentists in the city of Los Angeles than there are in the entire state of Missouri.  You read that correctly, at least that was correct that last time I checked.
 
Despite the fact that there are 2 dental schools in the state, Missouri, in certain rural areas, still suffers from a lack of providers.  This goes for both dentists and hygienists.  Of course the larger metropolitan areas like St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield have plenty of providers, but some rural areas are flat out desperate for someone to take care of them.  If I was a young doctor and someone about to graduate, I’d be taking a really long look at these underserved areas.  Imagine being the only dentist in the county?  Think you could get a practice off the ground in that environment?
 
Having been involved in organized dentistry, I knew that this problem was present, but I didn’t know it was becoming as critical as it is.  So when I saw this article in Columbia Missourian, I thought I would share it.  Needless to say there are lots of people out there who need dental care and doctors looking to start practices should definitely be considering them.  Here is part of the article:

COLUMBIA — In the early 1950s, Scotland County, Missouri, had a problem —  zero dentists.

Then in 1955, Harlo Donelson moved to town and opened up a dental practice. Nearly 55 years later, Donelson is 85, and he is still the only dentist.  When he retires, Scotland County might yet again be forced to look beyond the county for dental services.aScotland County isn’t an anomaly in Missouri's rural counties, which have long struggled with access to dental care.aMissouri ranked 41st in the nation in 2016 for number of dentists per capita, according to statistics from the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute. Missouri also rankeda41st for number of residents who saw a dentist, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control.

Boone County ranks ninth in the state for patient-to-dentist ratio — 1,677-to-1. aOral health experts in Missouri believe the state can improve its rankings, but it’s a had slog that involves not only oral health stakeholders, such as dentists and oral health advocates, but also everyday citizens and the Missouri legislature.

For the entire article here is the link.

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