A dental clinic in southwest Houston says the waiting list for the treatment for a rare form of cancer is longer than it was before.
More:Dentists say they’re concerned about the number of patients seeking care because of the need to secure a special certificate to treat the condition.
Dentistry, surgery and other services are not as accessible as they once were, and dentists say the state’s antiquated health care system makes it difficult to keep patients on track.
The dentistry and denture industry has been struggling for years to keep up with the demand for its services, said John Linnemann, a Houston attorney who represents some of the dentists who have filed for bankruptcy protection.
But it’s taken a long time for the state to address the issue, he said.
The state has been pushing to expand access to dental care in the past few years.
It is set to allow for a state-mandated expansion of state-funded dental clinics by 2020.
Linnimann said the state needs to focus on making dentistry more accessible, not on waiting lists.
In 2016, the state passed legislation to create a dental clinic registry.
Under the legislation, dentists can now access dental services through a state registry and register with the Department of State Health Services if they need treatment.
Linnemans goal is to have the registry operational by early 2018.
It has received more than 1.4 million applications for dental care.
The dentist has had to adjust the number and type of procedures he performs, he acknowledged.
He said his practice has had a hard time finding dentists to fill in the gap because of a lack of funding.
The practice had about 5,500 appointments in March, down from about 9,000 in February.
The demand for his services has also grown, Linneman said.
Dental care in Texas is considered an “essential service” by the state, so it’s critical to have dentists willing to perform the procedures.
But he said he doesn’t expect dental care to be a primary driver of demand for dentistry any time soon.
The dentistry industry, however, is losing revenue, and Linnerman worries dentists will lose the jobs they have.
The dental clinic’s problems stem from the state-run dental clinics being understaffed.
Lenneman said he can’t get dental work done for patients who can’t afford to pay.
Linsneman said patients have to wait a long, long time before their appointments are scheduled.
Linsnemann said it was a challenge getting dental care for people who can only afford to get a prescription.
Denting has become an optional procedure for people with other health problems, he added.
In a statement, state Sen. Donna Campbell, D-Houston, said her state will take action if it needs to, including closing dental clinics.
Campbell said the Senate will hold a hearing this week to discuss the dental clinic closures and the dental health care that needs to be expanded.
She said the bill is intended to ensure that all Texans can access a safe and quality dental care.
“I am confident the Senate can pass legislation that will make dental care available to the entire community, regardless of income,” Campbell said in a statement.
Campus, who represents the dentistry district where the clinic is located, is sponsoring legislation to ensure the dental clinics remain open and available for the public.
Dental clinics were originally created in 1842 to provide a basic level of dental care at a fraction of the cost of private dentistry services, according to the state of Texas.
But the clinics expanded and became more comprehensive and specialized in the 1980s.