Affecting not only physical but mental and emotional well-being, oral health is a critical and complex issue that spans beyond straight teeth and a white smile. While many oral conditions are preventable and treatable if diagnosed early, millions of Americans lack access to preventative services and treatments. These barriers to dental care access are multifaceted, and are often exacerbated for rural residents.
While strides have been made to improve access to dental care, disparities continue to exist in rural America. This analysis seeks to raise understanding of the linkage between oral and total health. Moreover, the analysis will identify primary barriers to dental health care in rural areas, with emphasis on the state of Nebraska, while also examining policy and institutional changes to close gaps in dental care access.