Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2013


Great Plains Research 23.2 (Fall 2013), pp. 199-208.


Copyright © 2013 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The looming shortage of dentists in rural communities throughout the Great Plains is a well-documented concern. Access to care can be a problem, and the lack of dental care is generally most acute among those with low income, those with complex health issues, and minorities. Studies are finding that there are significant associations between poor oral health and the occurrence of systemic diseases or problems. Examples include cardiovascular disease, stroke, and preterm delivery of low-birth weight infants. The two primary diseases of the oral cavity-dental caries and periodontal disease-are not only treatable but also preventable with adequate care.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Dentistry (COD) is committed to strengthening the rural dental workforce of the Great Plains by focusing upon rural recruitment strategies, service learning educational opportunities in rural communities, and strong support for dentists who practice in remote locations. Working closely with Nebraska and neighboring states, the UNMC College of Dentistry is striving to improve the oral health and economic vitality of small communities throughout the Great Plains region.