Shortage of dentists in Florida

With over 6 million residents, Florida has the highest number of people in the country who live in areas with a shortage of dental health professionals.

Data from the US Health Resources and Services Administration show that 66 of Florida’s 67 counties lack the necessary number of healthcare providers. Some advocates claim the crisis-level scarcity will have a substantial negative impact on overall health. Dental health corresponds with poor academic performance, heart disease, and even mortality.

The high expense of dental care contributes to the issue.

Thousands of patients with toothaches visit emergency rooms in Florida and across the country.

The doctors in the emergency departments can’t deal with this. Patients get antibiotics and painkillers and are then directed to visit a dentist. 

4,000 of the 150,000 people who visited the emergency room in 2019 had oral illnesses that required hospital admission. According to the Florida Department of Health, there were 12,264 dentists in the state as of 2020 and 2021. However not all of them accept Medicaid, a program that offers coverage to those with low incomes.

Florida only has a small number of dentists in many rural counties. The majority are in large urban counties. Dixie, Glades, and Lafayette counties are the only ones without a dentist. Three additional counties, Union, Gilchrist, and Franklin, each had one, according to state health statistics.

More studies are connecting the dots about how this discrepancy affects the health of schoolchildren and adults.

There is now solid scientific evidence on the link between, for example, periodontal disease, gum disease, and diabetes.

Only 18% of dentists in Florida participated in Medicaid in 2016.  The public’s lack of awareness of the connection between oral health and general health is the most terrifying element of the situation. Efforts must be made to raise awareness in order to find real, long-lasting solutions to the issues at hand.

Dental treatment is extremely poor in Florida. Far too many children who are now receiving healthcare for the first time. The Florida Dental Board exam is one of the most challenging in the nation. It limits the amount of providers dentists can have and is a contributing factor in the issue. Another issue is the subpar Medicaid coverage and reimbursement rates that the state offers. For this reason, the majority of offices refuse to see Medicaid enrollees. Many patients have to travel over two hours to receive treatment. It is something the government needs to address.

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