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Dental health a major problem for many

teeth.jpg

Last month, I mentioned the Wisconsin State Journal's series on the challenges of providing health care to rural communities. Another of writer David Wahlberg's pieces appeared over the weekend, and this one focuses on dental health:

Dental care can be difficult to find in rural parts of Wisconsin and throughout the country - especially for people on Medicaid, the state-federal health plan for the poor, and those with no insurance.

Nine of 10 dentists in the state accept few or no Medicaid patients, mostly because they say the state pays too little for the care. Rural areas have only about half as many dentists per person as urban areas do, making the search for dental care even harder in small towns.

That, combined with low fluoride levels in many rural drinking water supplies, means more tooth loss and untreated decay for many rural residents, state health officials say.

"Of all of the holes (in health care), dental care is the biggest and the deepest," said Greg Nycz, executive director of the Family Health Center of Marshfield, which serves much of rural, northern Wisconsin.

The problem is hardly contained to Wisconsin. A few days ago, the New York Times reported on the "dental crisis" right here in California; according to the article, "it is not unusual in California for children to suffer crippling pain and disability from untreated tooth decay."

Previously: Newspaper series examines rural health-care challenges
Via: Kaiser Health News
Photo by Jinx!

 

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