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Dental care in rural America, hospital dental services, rural health care planning



  1. Harrison, Jeffrey P. PhD, MBA, MHA, FACHE
  2. Daniel, Randolph C. DDS, MBA
  3. Nemecek, Victoria BSHA


As the science of medicine progresses, associations between good oral health and improved health status are being documented. However, the data would suggest that individuals in America's rural communities are experiencing dramatic health problems because they are not receiving dental treatment. This article addresses the importance of dental services in rural communities and highlights the importance of cooperation among hospitals, individual clinical providers, community health care organizations, and governmental entities. It will also discuss why there is a shortage in these rural areas and how the shortage is affecting rural communities and will address some strategies for solving this crisis. This research on the availability of dental care in rural communities will provide a framework for community leaders, elected officials, and health care providers to collect and analyze data to support future decision making in response to community health care needs. Such decisions increase the quality and efficiency of health care services, thereby safeguarding the health status of the population. This study found that the capability for hospital-based dental care services is greater in urban communities, whereas rural communities have significantly less capability for hospital dental care. This would support the premise that the availability of dental services is inconsistent across the United States and that dental care resources could be allocated to provide a consistent level of services across the population. It also emphasizes the importance of building innovative partnerships among local, state, and national organizations to ensure that an appropriate level of dental care is available in rural America. The study has managerial implications on meeting the demand for dental care in rural communities and policy implications on future resource allocation.