The Problem

Thousands of North Dakotans do not receive regular, routine dental care because there is not enough access to providers in rural areas or for many people with low-incomes in urban centers.[i]

In North Dakota:
  • More than 1 in 4 ND 3rd graders have untreated tooth decay.i
  • ND is 3rd worst in the nation at providing dental care to Medicaid-enrolled kids, with 65% not seeing a dentist in 2015.ii
  • Half of American Indian 3rd graders have had untreated tooth decay.[ii]
  • Among nursing home residents with teeth, 1/3 need urgent care—but facilities report a major barrier to providing oral health care is finding dentists who accept Medicaid.[iii]
  • 1 in 3 seniors report having dental problems. They are “far more likely than any other age group” to do so.iii
Poor oral health is related to other serious medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, oral cancer and respiratory diseases. These illnesses have a significant economic impact through lost productivity for adults, and poorer school performance for kids.[iv]
In addition, when routine dental care isn’t available people go to emergency rooms instead. The American Dental Association estimates up to $2.1 billion were wasted nationwide on ER visits for dental issues in 2010.[v]
[i]  UND Center for Rural Health. ND Oral Health Report: Needs and Proposed Models, December 2014.
[ii] Njau G and Yineman K, “Findings and Lessons from the 2014-2015 ND Oral Health Third Grade Basic Screening Survey,” ND Department of Health, (Presented at the Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health, May 16, 2016).
[iii] UND Center for Rural Health, “Oral Health among the North Dakota Elderly,” October 2016, Schroeder S, UND Center for Rural Health, “Oral Health Services Provided and the Perceived Barriers to Providing Services in LTC Facilities,” (Presented at AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, Boston, MA), June 27, 2016.
[iv] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General.
Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial
Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.
[v] Thomas Wall, Kamyar Nasseh. American Dental Association. Dental-Related Emergency Department Visits on the Increase in the United States. May 2013. 

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