In order to improve the dental health crisis in America, it is crucial for experts to identify what is causing this issue so they can address it. Over the past few years, there have been many different theories as to why nearly a quarter of U.S. adults have untreated toot decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chief among these theories is that there are not enough dentists in the U.S. to care for everyone. However, according to a recent report released by the American Dental Association, an insufficient number of dentists may not be the issue.
The ADA explained that many people believe a shortage of dentists is to blame for many dental care problems across the country, and that things will only get worse as dentists who are from the baby boomer generation start planning their retirement. The organization set out to examine the connection between the number of dental providers in an area and the dental health of people who live there, with surprising results.
Number of dentists may not matter
According to the report, Mississippi ranks 17 in the country for improving access to dental care for children on Medicaid. The number of kids on Medicaid who visited the dentist went from 22 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2011, despite the fact that the state has the greatest dentist shortage, in terms of the number of the population that is unserved. The ADA used data from the government's Health Professions Shortage Area methodology to come to their conclusions.
Furthermore, states that had increases in dental shortages according to the HPSA methodology actually seemed to have more children on Medicaid visiting the dentist than others. Also, 40 percent of dentists nationwide said that they could take on more patients, a percentage that is much higher than it was five years ago.
So what is to blame?
If an insufficient number of dentists is not what is holding people back from getting dental care - what is? One potential cause could be that many people do not have dental insurance, so they may not be going to the dentist because they are concerned about the cost. These individuals should consider purchasing discount dental plans to help them pay for cleanings, root canals and any other necessary dental procedure that they may need. These plans will give them access to dentists who will perform services for a substantially reduced fee.
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