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In many places across America, people are struggling to gain access to affordable dental care. Even in states where most residents receive preventive dental care, there still many individuals who do not. For example, a recent study from researchers at the University of Virginia revealed that while most Virginians make frequent trips to the dentist, there are still segments of the population that are getting left out.
According to the researchers, there are still dental health disparities in Virginia based on race, income and location. For example, African Americans in Virginia were found to be less likely to have visited a dentist in the past year than other populations. Furthermore, individuals who live in urban areas were more likely to have received dental care in the past year than those in rural areas.
Studies have shown that few dentists are willing to practice in rural areas. In response to this, the researchers suggested that dental hygienists should be allowed to do more procedures.
"In particular, allowing hygienists to offer fluoride varnish and routine cleaning without supervision by a dentist has the potential to generate significant health improvements at low cost," wrote study authors. "The resulting increase in visits by those previously not receiving care has a very important side benefit."
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