A growing shortage of dentists who specialize in the treatment of children worries health experts at the University of Kentucky. Children once waited until they were three years old before they made their first trip to the dentist. The dean of the University of Kentucky’s College of Dentistry says that first trip should now come at age one. But, Dr. Sharon Turner is increasingly worried finding a dentist qualified to treat toddlers will grow difficult. Turner says both U-K and the University of Louisville graduate about eight pediatric specialists each year.
“Oh my gosh, I think we could easily use three times that many in both programs,” said Turner.
Turner blames the low number on a shortage of funds, space and faculty.
Currently, Turner says too many young children with serious oral health problems wind up hospitalized.
“Those children have to be treated in a hospital operating room. They are just too young to cooperate and too fearful. That’s really expensive and we see a fair amount of that,” added Turner.
She says the expense could be avoided with better preventative care.