A new study says many Virginians don’t have access to dental care because of costs and a lack of dentists, according to the Associated Press.
Virginians in the rural western and southern regions of the state are less likely to have received dental care than residents living in the highly urbanized northern and eastern regions, according to a news release about the study.
Here’s more from the Associated Press:
“The study by two University of Virginia economists says cost is the greatest barrier. Those least likely to visit a dentist are low-income residents without insurance or who have low-cost public health care.
“According to the study, more than 15 percent of Virginia’s population lives in areas designated by the federal government as dental Health Professional Shortage Areas.
“The study recommends allowing dental hygienists to offer fluoride varnish and routine cleaning without a dentist’s supervision. It says that would expand access to care at a low cost. Dental hygienists also could identify patients who need additional care and refer them to a dentist.”
Here is some additional information provided in the university’s news release about the study:
- Low-income residents without insurance or with low-cost public care are least likely to visit a dentist.
- African-Americans in Virginia are less likely than other groups to have visited a dentist or dental clinic in the past year.
- Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads areas have higher concentrations of dentists than less urbanized portions of the state.
- Four rural counties with relatively high percentages of African-Americans have no dentists at all: Charles City County, King and Queen County, Surry County, and Sussex County.
- Approximately 15.6 percent of the state’s population lives in the designated dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, which are mostly in Virginia’s western and southern regions.