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Shortage of Dentists in Many Parts of California

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Aired 5/28/09

California has more dentists than any other state, but they're unevenly distributed. A new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows many rural areas suffer from a shortage of dentists.

California has more dentists than any other state, but they're unevenly distributed. A new report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows many rural areas suffer from a shortage of dentists.

The UCLA report reveals Imperial County has 44 dentists to serve 164,000 people. San Benito County in Central California has only five dentists to care for 57,000 people.

UCLA public health professor Nadereh Pourat wrote the report. She says many Californians in rural areas have poor access.

"I'm not sure how people actually get services when they need it, I assume a lot of people are not getting care," Pourat says. "Particularly preventive care, which is very important in dentistry."

253 parts of California are designated as shortage areas. These places have a dentist to population ratio of one to 5,000 or lower.

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