Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CMAJ: United States faces dentist shortage

Canadian Medical Association Journal: United States faces dentist shortage:

"Residents of the United States who need teeth extracted may soon have to do it the old-fashioned way — with pliers, whiskey and elbow grease — because there may not be enough dentists to go around."

"American dentists are often reluctant to open offices in rural areas, a situation that will only be exacerbated when the number of practicing dentists starts to decline in 2014. To obtain dental care, many rural residents will have to rely on organizations like the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corp., which operates [free] clinics" which pop up sporadically to meet extremely long lines of people needing urgent dental care.

Also most dentists refuse Medicaid patients and 130 million Americans don't have dental insurance.

"Further compounding the problem are such factors as a continuing migration from general practice to specialties like orthodontics, the closure of dental schools, a decrease in the size of graduating classes, the forthcoming mass retirement of older dentists and the growing number of female dentists, who tend to work fewer hours than their male colleagues."