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Report: North Dakota a Tough State to get Low-Income Dental Care - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Report: North Dakota a Tough State to get Low-Income Dental Care

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North Dakota is the fourth toughest state in the country for low-income children to receive dental care, according to a Pew Research report out on Tuesday.

The report found 66.4 percent of medicaid-enrolled children in the state were not able to see a dentist in 2011.  The study examines the struggle many kids have getting routine dental care, and how a dentist shortage helps drive the problem.

"Many dentists in North Dakota are nearing retirement ,so state leaders need to act before the problem gets worse," explains Shelly Gehshan, Director of the Pew children's dental campaign. "One approach is to train and license additional members of the dental team who can reach kids who are now going without care."

Experts say the lack of access means more kids have dental problems and are more likely to either miss school or perform poorly while at school.

 

Currently, about 45 million Americans live in areas confirmed to have a dentist shortage. In fact, in six states more than 20% of people have little or no access to dentists, and more than 14 million low-income children did not see a dentist in 2011.

The federal government estimates that eliminating the nation's shortages would require more than 6,000 new dentists. At the same time, as part of health care reform, millions more children will gain dental coverage in the next year -- but they will be entering a system that lacks a sufficient workforce to offer care to those already insured now.

 

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