Dentist offices booked months out due to dentist shortages

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 3:32 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - A CDC report from 2020 said, in the U.S the average was 61.04 dentist per 100,000-resident population. However, the state of Kentucky sat slightly lower than the national average at 54.92 dentist per 100,000 resident population.

“We stay booked 3 months in advance so it’s definitely an issue,” said Greg Baker, a dentist at the Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky.

Baker said they have been trying to hire a fourth dentist at their office for more than two years.

“We just don’t have enough dentists to provide the services that are needed. People have to wait two or three months to get in to see a dentist. You know they suffer pain and discomfort,” he said.

Baker also acknowledged that sometimes people can’t wait for months to get into the dentist, but rather need help immediately.

“Anytime someone has an emergency, and they have pain. I work them in even if I have to stay late,” he said.

He said that the need for additional help is great and it’s hard to encourage dentists that are not from the area to move to Eastern Kentucky.

“It’s not a bad area but if you’re not from here and not acustomed to the ways of the community. It’s hard to get dentists from bigger cities to come back because it’s such a big change for them,” he said.

He also said that the future of dentistry in Eastern Kentucky is just as bright as the big cities.

“The future of dentistry looks bright especially with all the new technology that wasn’t available to us in the past. It’s everywhere, technology can be here it can be in the bigger cities. You don’t have to go to Lexington to have your teeth worked on,” he said.

WYMT’s Olivia Calfee did reach out to state organizations regarding the issue, and we have not heard back about their plans to help solve this problem.