"1 in 10 are missing all their teeth." Article here.
Dr. Smith has a rare window on a state with the highest proportion of adults under 65 without teeth, where about half the population does not have dental insurance. He struggles to counter the effects of the drastic shortage of dentists in rural areas and oral hygiene habits that have been slow to change. . . .
Kentucky is among the worst states nationally in the proportion of low-income residents served by free or subsidized dental clinics, and less than a fourth of the state’s dentists regularly take Medicaid, according to 2005 federal data. . . .
“Not much has changed over the years here, really,” said Glen D. Anderson, who for two decades has made dentures in Corbin, Ky. He sells a pair of dentures for $400 that many dentists sell for more than $1,200. Like his brother, father and grandfather, he makes them without a license. . . .
“Under Medicaid,” Dr. Smith said, “the only choice a person with a severe infection has is to have the tooth pulled, even if she’s 25 years old and the tooth is right in the middle of her face.” He added that the program does not pay for root canals or dentures, though it does help pay for a liquid diet for those without teeth.
Medicare, the federal government’s health insurance program for seniors, does not pay for dental services. . . .
His teeth crooked and blackened, Justin Baker is the face of another reason for Kentucky’s oral hygiene problems: methamphetamine use. . . .