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West Virginia 47th in dentist visits

West Virginia has one of the lowest percentages of adults who go to a dentist.

Only three states — Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arkansas — had fewer people who reported that they went to a dentist’s office last year, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Dentists and oral health advocates say that people who visit a dentist are more likely to have good dental hygiene.

The CDC’s data show that 61.4 percent of West Virginians 18 and older went to a dentist last year, down from 62.5 percent in 2004.

“It goes back to education and a cultural thing,” said Richard Stevens, executive director of the West Virginia Dental Association. “Most people aren’t well-informed about the importance of oral health care. A lot of people have resigned themselves that they’ll just wind up with dentures when they get older.”

State oral health advocates said West Virginia’s “backslide” also raises concerns about the future of children’s dental health. Parents who go to a dentist are more likely to take their kids to one.

“Parents are the ones who make the appointments,” said Gina Sharps, co-director of West Virginia University’s Oral Health Project. “It’s amazing that we have people with dental coverage who are not using it. People are still not getting the message.”

Among West Virginia’s poorest residents — those who make less than $15,000 a year — only one of every three people saw a dentist.

Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of West Virginia’s highest wage earners — making more than $50,000 a year — went to a dentist at least once last year.

West Virginia women were more likely to go in for a check-up than men. Nearly 64 percent of women visited a dentist last year, while 59 percent of men did, according to the CDC.

Connecticut and Rhode Island had the highest dental visitation rates with about 80 percent reporting they went to a dentist.

The national average was 70.3 percent — the same as in 2004.

West Virginia lawmakers plan to consider recommendations to improve the state’s oral health in the upcoming legislative session, which starts Jan. 9.

West Virginia leads the nation in the percentage of adults who have had at least one permanent tooth pulled because of infection or decay, as well as the percentage of adults 65 and older with no teeth.

Need a dentist?

Following is a list of names, addresses and phone numbers for area dentists and dental services.

Community health centers with onsite dental services

(Sliding fees based on income; Medicaid accepted.)

Clay-Battelle Community Health Services Assoc.

P.O. Box 72

5861 Mason Dixon Highway

Blacksville, WV 26521-0072

(304) 432-8211

E.A. Hawse Health Center

P.O. Box 97

17978 W.Va. 55

Baker, WV 26801-0097

(304) 897-5915

Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center

186 Hospital Drive

Grantsville, WV 26147

(304) 354-9244

Preston-Taylor Community Health Centers

711 N. Pike

Grafton, WV 26354-0399

(304) 265-4200

Tug River Health Association

P.O. Box 507

Route 103

Gary, WV 24836-0507

(304) 448-2101

Valley Health-Fort Gay

3329 Bridge St.

Fort Gay, WV 25514

(304) 648-5433

Valley Health-Harts

22 Fleming Drive

Harts, WV 25524

(304) 855-4595

Valley Health-Upper Kanawha

408 Alexander St.

Cedar Grove, WV 25309

(304) 595-3282

Valley Health-Westmoreland

2908 Auburn Road

Huntington, WV 25704

(304) 781-5800

Wirt County Health Services Association

P.O. Box 609

1301 Elizabeth Pike

Elizabeth, WV 26164

(304) 275-8780

FamilyCare

1701 Fifth Ave., Box 5

Charleston, WV 25312

(304) 414-4499

University clinics (Fees charged)

West Virginia University Dental Clinics

WVU Dental Group Practice

Health Sciences North

Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center of WV

Morgantown, WV 26506

(304) 293-6208

West Virginia University School of Dentistry, Charleston Division

WVU Health Sciences Center-Charleston Division

3110 MacCorkle Ave. S.E.

Charleston, WV 25304

(304) 347-1300

Free clinics with onsite dental services

(Free services or small donation accepted)

West Virginia Health Right

1520 Washington St. E.

Charleston, WV 25311

(304) 343-7000

Mylan Puskar Health Right

P.O. Box 1519

Morgantown, WV 26507

(304) 292-8234 Ext 1

Ebenezer Medical Outreach, Inc.

1448 Tenth Ave.

Huntington, WV 25701

(304) 529-0753

Susan Dew Hoff Memorial Clinic

925 Liberty St.

West Milford, WV 26451

(304) 745-3700

Private dentists

(Will refer you to at least two practicing dentists in your area)

West Virginia Dental Association

2016 1/2 Kanawha Blvd., East

Charleston, WV 25311

(304) 344-5246

Same-day, low-cost dentures

Allcare Dental & Dentures

112 RHL Boulevard

Dudley Farms Plaza

Charleston, WV 25309

(304) 744-1500

Affordable Dentures

2-A Mall Road

Barboursville, WV 25504

(304) 733-5500

Affordable Dentures

106 Tolley Drive

Bridgeport, WV 26330

(304) 842-1995

Affordable Dentures

Rocky Gap, VA

(276) 928-1520

The Denture Store

632 13th St.

Huntington, WV 25701

(304) 529-6636

State programs

WVDHHR Office of Maternal, Child and Family Health

Oral Health Program

350 Capitol St., Room 427

Charleston, WV 25301

(800) 642-9704

Children only

Kanawha Dental Health Council

Chandler Elementary School

1900 School Street

Charleston, WV 25312

(304) 348-6613

To contact staff writer Eric Eyre, use e-mail or call 348-4869.


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