Dental Care Lacking for Virginia Residents

Virginians need better dental care.

People in the state don’t have access to dentists to receive the proper dental care, nor do they have enough dentists to provide the care, according to a study by two University of Virginia economists.

For many, cost is the main problem. The people who are least inclined to see a dentist are low-income residents that don’t have insurance or utilize low-cost public healthcare. In Virginia, Medicaid only includes dental care for emergency services.

Race and geography also played a part in the dental care people received. In the rural areas of the state, toward the west and south, people were less likely to receive dental care than the northern and eastern parts of the state.

Another problem is that about 15 percent of the people live in areas that are considered dental health professional shortage areas. An influx of dentists in these areas is sorely needed.

Terance Rephann of the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service and Tanya Wanchek of the School of Medicine put the study together.

Virginia residents still visit the dentist at a higher rate than the national average. It’s also important, however, for new ways to be created for more people to be able to visit the dentist on a regular basis.

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