Millions Are Stuck in Dental Deserts, With No Access to Oral Health Care

by | May 1, 2023 | Health

Every day, Adrienne Grimmett and her colleagues at Evara Health in the Tampa Bay area see stories of inequity in their patients’ teeth, gums, and palates.

Marked in painful abscesses, dangerous infections, and missing molars are tales of unequal access to care.

All of these ailments — which keep patients out of work because of pain or social stigma, and children out of school because they can’t concentrate with rotting roots — are preventable.

Annual dental checks are essential to overall health. But of the 67 counties in Florida, experts say, only one has enough dentists to treat all patients. Nine counties in Florida have fewer than three practicing dentists apiece. Lafayette County, in north Florida, doesn’t have a single one.

“It’s a social injustice,” said Grimmett, director of dental services at the not-for-profit, which serves Medicaid and uninsured patients in the Tampa Bay region.

“You will never be totally well if you don’t have oral health,” she said.

In Florida and across the nation, vulnerable and marginalized communities — already prone to higher rates of chronic disease and limited access to health care — are left behind in these dental deserts. There, patient volume exceeds the capacity of providers, or too few dentists are willing to serve those on Medicaid or the uninsured.

Constricting the pool of dentists are low — or nonexistent — reimbursement rates f …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This