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Oral Health and the Dental Care Workforce in Southwest Virginia

By Tanya Wanchek, Terance J. Rephann and William Shobe

Abstract

This study examines the health impact of a proposed dental school in Southwest Virginia. In setting the stage for an evaluation of the dental school impacts, this study first assesses the economic, social, and health context for the Southwest Virginia region. It also presents a summary of research regarding the causes of differences in oral health, demand and supply for dental care services, the uneven geographical distribution of the health care workforce, and the regional labor market consequences of expanding area training and educational opportunities. The study provides a descriptive analysis of national, state, and regional oral health needs as well as pertinent national, state, and regional dental care resources and analyzes gaps in the existing and future provision of regional dental services. It assesses how a new dental school could affect the availability of dentists, utilization levels of dental services, and quality of care. Lastly, it discusses alternative policies and programs, including variants of the dental school model, for improving access to dental care and oral health outcomes in the Southwest Virginia region.health care; dental care; dental schools; UVa-Wise

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