Dental care in rural America
A recent analysis of dental care in the state of Kentucky constitutes either a sick joke or a sad commentary--depending on how you choose to interpret it. In an earlier memorandum on this site we talked about "third world dentristy" all too prevalent in America where growth in the number of expensive-to-educate dentists has not kept pace with demand. Analyzing dental needs in Kentucky adds to this picture.
According to recent studies, one in ten Kentucky residents have NO TEETH. This is because about the only dental care Medicaid will pay for is tooth extraction, and the cheapest form of dental care for diseased teeth in uninsured mouths is extraction. Couple that with a culture slow to abandon smoking and chewing tobacco, and a poor, aging, rural, uninsured population, and you have a recipe for dental disaster. Compound the problem further with restrictions on the practice of dentistry and denture-manufacture, problems with nutrition and metamphetamine use, and fully ten percent of the population have no teeth.
Statistics say only half of Kentucky residents have dental insurance. Most rural residents lack flouridation. Fewer than 25 percent of the state's dentists accept Medicaid patients, and Medicaid sacrificed all orthodontic care in the state in order to increase Medicaid benefits to approximately fifty percent of "market" rate among dentists.