North Carolina city grapples with oral surgeon shortage: 5 things to know

After recent license suspensions of two local oral surgeons, the city of Wilmington, N.C., is experiencing a shortage that can affect whether residents will receive care, WECT News, an NBC affiliate, reported July 7.

Five things to know about the shortage:

  1. Wilmington is in New Hanover County, which only has a handful of oral surgeons. Brunswick County has two, and there are none in other nearby counties. There are 186 oral surgeons in the state.
  2. The number of oral surgeons has not kept pace with population growth in the area. New Hanover County had seven oral surgeons in 2000. Despite a slight increase to nine oral surgeons by 2016, that number went down to six by 2019 because of relocations and license suspensions.
  3. Michael Lee Hasson, DDS, had his license suspended in 2019 after he was arrested and charged with sexually abusing patients. Mark Austin, DDS, had his license suspended earlier this year after he was accused of abusing opioids.
  4. WECT News reported that some residents with dental emergencies were told it could take two weeks to get an appointment with an oral surgeon.
  5. The opening of the East Carolina University School of Dentistry in Greenville was meant to address the need for more dentists, but there's no guarantee that students who graduate from the school will remain in the state.

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