Arizona faces dentist shortage: 7 highlights

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Metropolitan and especially rural areas in Arizona are facing a shortage of dentists and lack of dental care coverage, according to AZ Big Media.

Here are seven highlights:

1. The American Dental Association reported Arizona has 54.5 dentists per 100,000 residents while the national average is 60.5 dentists per 100,000 residents.

2. The divide between dentists in metropolitan and rural areas in Arizona is even greater. In metropolitan areas there is one dentist per every 1,000 residents and rural areas there is one dentist per 5,000 to 6,000 residents.

3. Residents in metropolitan areas typically drive one mile compared to 10 or more miles rural patients drive to reach their nearest dentist.

4. Language barriers and the cultural training needed for many dentists to serve in rural communities was cited as a reason for the lack of professionals.

5. Arizona residents also often do not have dental coverage with about 44 percent of adults and 38 percent of children living without dental insurance.

6. Medicaid does not cover dental care of adults in Arizona and the state is uncertain about expanding Medicaid benefits in the future.

7. Due to the lack of oral education, only about 44 percent of residents with dental benefits actually use their insurance.

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