A report is scheduled for release next month examining the difficulty many Americans, including Hoosiers, have getting routine dental care. To make matters worse, the country is suffering from a shortage of dentists which only exacerbates the problem. Pew’s report, titled “In Search of Dentists,” provides data for all 50 states and ranks the 10 states with the worst dentist shortage, the 10 states where low-income children are least likely to receive dental care and the 10 states with the largest share of dentists approaching retirement.
Approximately 45 million Americans currently live in areas confirmed to have a dentist shortage, and even when dental practices are located nearby, low-income families more often than not struggle to find dental care for their children because many dentists do not participate in Medicaid. This lack of participation makes it increasingly difficult for low-income families to pay for the care their children need.
The prevalence of access barriers cause children and adults to often end up in hospital emergency rooms to have serious dental conditions treated – conditions that could have been prevented, had they been able to receive routine care. A press release from Pew Children’s Dental Campaign indicated that in 2009, more than 830,000 Americans were sent to the emergency room complaining of toothaches or other dental problems that could have been prevented.