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Rural Health Information Hub

Barriers to Oral Healthcare in Rural Communities

Rural populations face a range of barriers that affect access to oral healthcare, including:

  • Low provider-to-population ratios
  • Inadequate number of dentists who accept Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program or who have discounted fee schedules
  • Insufficient or lack of dental insurance benefits
  • Lack of transportation
  • Lack of child care
  • Insufficient levels or lack of access to water fluoridation
  • Lack of awareness and education about oral health
  • Geographic barriers to care
  • Poverty
  • Cultural barriers and stigma

For additional information on the factors that affect health in rural communities, see Overview of Specific Issues in a Rural Context in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Improving Rural Oral Healthcare Access
Policy brief discussing the oral and systemic health connection and the dental workforce shortage. Highlights the need for interprofessional education and offers recommendations for improving access to rural oral healthcare.
Organization(s): National Rural Health Association (NRHA)
Date: 5/18