Knox County struggling to attract new, young dentists

Many communities in Illinois are in desperate need of dentists, especially ones that serve low-income patients.

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration designates Knox County as a dental health professional shortage area, meaning there are not enough dental health providers for the population.

Experts say residents with limited resources are especially underserved.

"The county has something like 20,000 or 30,000 people on Medicaid, and currently, to my knowledge, we're the only clinic that treats Medicaid dental in the whole county," said Dr. Matt Rozny, a dentist at the Knox County Health Department.

Rozny said he treats around 2,000 to 3,000 patients each year, leaving a large gap in coverage.

"It's not unheard of to wait a few months for an appointment," said Rozny.

Despite the demand for treatment, the health department is having trouble recruiting more young dentists to the area. There is an open position at the clinic, but Rozny said there has been little interest so far.

"I think a lot of people are drawn to major metropolitan areas, just because there's nightlife and things like that," said Rozny. "It's a lifestyle thing maybe."

Rozny moved to Galesburg eight years ago, and says he's found many advantages to working in a rural, high-need area.

"Gosh, I just love it here," he said.

For more information on health professional shortage areas, click here.