Is Texas Failing Its Dental Checkup?

Becker’s Dental & DSO Review published a list of things about dental care in Texas a while ago.

Some of them are not very flattering to this great state.

Many underserved areas

While Texas has the second most number of dentists in the union, unfortunately, our state ranks fourth highest in the number of designated shortage areas with 317, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations are used to identify areas and population groups within the United States that are experiencing a shortage of health professionals.

Lack of dentists in the state

Apparently, Texas needs another 445 dentists in the state to remove the health professional shortage area designation from high to low, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. It’s currently the fifth highest in the country.

For an area to be considered as having a shortage of dental providers, the population-to-provider ratio must be at least 5,000 to 1, or 4,000 to 1 if there are unusually high needs in the community.

That’s two strikes.

Texas ranked 47th in dental health

Express Dentist, a national dental provider, did a survey of the states with the best dental health. The comprehensive study examined 25 indicators of dental health, including the percentage of adults who visit the dentist and the number of dentists per 100,000 people.

It ranked Texas 47th.

The worst states like Texas have “higher numbers of residents taking days off work for dental pain, which suggests that poor dental health can have a direct impact on economic productivity.”

Three strikes? Ouch.

Some of the best dental schools in the world are in Texas

As a conundrum, according to a survey done by Shanghai Ranking quoted by Becker’s, five Texas dental schools are ranked among the best in the world.

But not attractive for dentists to stay or come to Texas

This outrageous situation might be difficult to fix because…Texas is not one of the most attractive states for dentists to work.

In fact, according to a review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by the career website Zappia, Texas ranked 28th in the nation as a place for dentists to live and work, ranked from best to worst.

Low Medicaid fee reimbursement doesn’t help

For those dentists or dental practices thinking of coming to the state, the current state of Medicaid reimbursement certainly isn’t an inducement.

A fee schedule set in 2012 that has gone down by 2% over the last decade isn’t a motivator.  When you take into account our current inflationary spiral and difficulties in staffing, Medicaid dental care is on the verge of going bust.

Budget surplus can make things better

As there is a tremendous state budget surplus of some $27 billion, we sincerely hope the legislature will make this a priority this session.

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