Boosting Oral Health Care in Rural Communities

Both societal and geographical barriers make it difficult for rural communities to access oral care. Additionally, rural communities are more likely to experience poverty and regions with higher rates of poverty have significantly fewer dentists per 100,000 people. Due to this shortage, State and Federal legislators are working to improve access to oral health care for rural communities. Boosting the health care workforce, expanding teledentistry, and improving access to insurance are common approaches states are taking to increase oral health services. Teledentistry, which consists of a range of services from video consultations to patient monitoring, would be efficient in screening patients for diseases and connecting them with appropriate care from their homes. Federally, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is working with states to attract providers to underserved rural areas, expand facilities, and establish teledentistry programs. Together, state and federal government officials are working to bring a greater oral care presence to underserved rural areas.