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New Mexico's Dentist Shortage

A 2006 W.K. Kellogg Foundation dental feasibility study entitled Bridging the Gap: Partnerships Between Dental Schools and Colleges To Produce A Workforce To Fully Serve America's Diverse Communities found that low-income and rural communities are underserved in terms of oral health needs:

  • There is a dearth of dentists available to serve the population.
  • Thirty million Americans live in these shortage areas, while more than 109 million Americans lack dental insurance.
  • Only 16 percent of dentists in 35 states actively participate in the Medicaid program.
  • The dentist-to-population ratio by race/ethnic divide is extremely low.
  • The number of federally designated dental shortage areas have doubled from approximately 700 to 1,400 in the past decade.

New Mexico’s Underserved

New Mexico is a minority-majority state, in which the combined Hispanic, Native American and African American populations outnumber the Caucasian population.

UNM is a leading Hispanic- and Native American-serving research institution with a medical school, colleges of nursing and pharmacy and a public health program. Nearly half of its 26,000 students are minorities.

Bridging the Gap indicated that this outreach to underrepresented minority students will work best in:

  • States that recognize that there is a major dental access problem in low-income areas and communities of color.
  • Locations where there are underrepresented minority pipeline programs in existence.
  • Where minority-serving colleges and universities partner with dental and medical schools.