Missourians have some of the nation's worst dental health, despite an 80% fluoridation rate. The state ranks 47th in percentage of adults who have visited the dentist in the last year (63 percent). The national average is 71 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Illinois, where fluoridation is state-mandated, ranks 32nd, with 69 percent of adults visiting the dentist.
And it's not just adults. In 2004, a survey found that one quarter of Missouri's third- graders had untreated tooth decay.
A shortage of dentists has compounded the problem, especially in rural or underserved areas. There are 18 Missouri counties with one or no registered dentists.
Lack of dentists and dental insurance compound dental health problem