Even as more people recognize the importance that oral healthcare plays in overall health, the quality of that oral healthcare varies significantly across the country, according to 2018’s States with the Best & Worst Dental Health from WalletHub.
The states with the best dental health are:
- North Dakota
- District of Columbia
- South Dakota
The states with the worst dental health are:
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Rhode Island has the lowest share of the population who couldn’t afford more dental visits due to costs at 37%, which is half of the rate of Georgia, which is the highest in the nation at 74%. Massachusetts has the most dentists per 100,000 residents at 48. That’s three times more than Tennessee, which has the fewest at 16.
Solutions that focus on reducing costs such as evidence-based treatment and silver diamine fluoride and on increasing the scope of care among other dental professionals could have a significant impact on improving oral health in states that face these challenges, according to experts polled by WalletHub. Expansion of dental coverage and school-based treatment would have a significant impact as well, the experts noted.
“Dental healthcare, in my opinion, can be made more affordable when dental hygienists are allowed to practice more independently and in different settings without the direct supervision of dentists. The expansion of dental hygiene mid-level providers (dental therapists) could potentially fill the gap in access to care and reduce costs,” said Elmer E. Gonzalez, MS, RDH, program director and assistant professor of dental hygiene at New Mexico State University.