The number of dentists in the state is on the decline. Nationally, there are 62 dentists for every 100,000 people. In Nebraska, there are 55.
Dr. Kim McFarland, dentist and professor with the UNMC College of Dentistry, says the information was collected through a health professions tracking center and used in a study she co-authored.
Dr. McFarland says the College of Dentistry needs to work to recruit more students from rural backgrounds who will attend college and then locate back home after they graduate.
She says there are some other potential solutions to the dentist shortage as well.
"We have recently increased the number of weeks our students go out to rural and underserved areas to provide dental care. We used to have them go out for four weeks and now they are going out for six weeks each year. Lastly, we have the Nebraska State Loan Repayment Program which will provide funding for graduates who ultimately locate in a rural area.”
Dr. McFarland says it’s important to maintain good oral health. She says improper oral care can lead to pain, tooth loss, infection or possibly cancer.