KIND News Conference

Kansas Dentists Highlight Ongoing Efforts to Expand Quality Oral Health Care

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KDA members listen during the press conference for the Kansas Initiative for New Dentists (KIND) program.

Topeka—Kansans are seeing progress in the comprehensive efforts to reduce barriers to quality dental care in the state, according to information presented at the Kansas Statehouse today.

Members of the Kansas Dental Association briefed lawmakers about ongoing efforts to expand oral health services for underserved Kansans. These efforts include recruiting dentists to practice in rural areas, expanding services provided by hygienists under direct supervision of a dentist and reach low-income Kansans served by the state’s Medicaid program.

“Several years ago, dentists launched a comprehensive initiative to expand access to quality oral health care to all Kansans, regardless of income or address,” said Kansas Dental Association President Craig Herre. “We developed our plan at a time when state resources were scarce, so it relies heavily on private philanthropy and community partnerships. We are encouraged by what has been accomplished to date. And while we still have more to do, we are heading in the right direction and thank Kansas lawmakers and other partners for their guidance and support in this quest.”

Members of the Kansas Dental Association today announced the first group of dental students who have been selected to receive $25,000 scholarship assistance in exchange for a commitment to serve in a rural Kansas Community and treat Medicaid and underserved patients. The Kansas Initiative for New Dentists (KIND) Program, conducted with financial support from the Delta Dental Foundation of Kansas, is a new loan repayment program designed to attract dentists to key areas identified as underserved. “Working with communities in key areas of Kansas, we are delighted to match these talented future dentists with great dental practice opportunities,” stated Dr. Stan Wint, a member of the Delta Dental Foundation of Kansas Board of Directors. “The problem facing our state isn’t so much one of too few dentists as it is one of geographic distribution. That’s what makes this KIND initiative so promising.”

The students are:

  • Nathan Schmidt, a third year dental student at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Dentistry who intends to practice dentistry in Wallace County;
  • Brittany Owens, a second year dental student at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Dentistry who intends to practice dentistry in Marion County, and;
  • Taylor Allen-Merklein, a second year dental student at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Dentistry who intends to practice dentistry in Doniphan County.The Kansas Dental Association also reported today that a substantial number of Kansas dentists are participating in the state’s recently launched KanCare program to provide dental services for low income and disabled Kansans. More than 350 Kansas dentists are currently participating in the new dental program, with more dentists signing up each week.The Kansas Dental Association also discussed progress being made to expand the services that dental hygienists perform in Kansas under direct supervision of a dentist through the ECP III advanced dental hygienist program. Last year the legislature enacted a substantial dental care measure that created a new level of extended practice for dental hygienists who meet increased qualifications. After additional training, ECP III advanced dental hygienists would be able to perform more dental services such as placing temporary fillings. To maintain quality care, a dentist would not be allowed to provide oversight to more than five ECP III advanced dental hygienists.The Kansas Dental Board has recently approved a training program for ECP III advanced dental hygienists at the UMKC School of Dentistry, and training is set to begin this spring.“Kansas dentists and those who support efforts to enhance quality oral health care in the state are proud of the progress and accomplishments we’ve made, but rest assured our efforts are not over,” remarked Herre. “We know that challenges remain and we will keep pursuing all avenues of policy and programs that can best serve our state.”

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