TOPEKA — The Kansas Board of Regents Oral Health Task Force, today, released recommendations to educate more dentists to help address the needs of the underserved populations in the state. Last year the Regents appointed an 11-member Oral Health Task Force to study and make recommendations on improvements needed in the delivery of oral health in Kansas.
The recommendations (attached) call for a two-phase approach to educating more dentists to serve Kansans. The first phase would focus on securing more seats at dental schools in surrounding states, while requiring those students to return to Kansas. The second phase calls for a more thorough analysis of a dental school in Kansas.
“Kansas Dentists and all Kansans should be encouraged by the recommendations which call for maintaining access to quality care by continuing to grow the number of professionally educated dentists in our state,” said Kevin Robertson, Executive Director of the Kansas Dental Association.
The Kansans who served on this task force were aided in their work by data developed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The “Dental Care Service Deserts” describe geographic areas where there are no dental services and where the closest dental office is at least a 30-minute drive from an individual’s home. Though less than two percent of all Kansans live in these “dental deserts,” the need for more dentists in these areas is essential along with additional access to dentists for Kansans who are low income, aged and disabled.
“We know the challenges for dental care won’t be tackled by a single approach,” noted Robertson. “A lot of progress is being made in Kansas to expand access to care. We especially thank the Kansas Legislators for their enactment of HB 2361, the Comprehensive Oral Health Initiative. In addition, Kansas Dental Association has partnered with Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation to create the Kansas Initiative for New Dentists (KIND) to encourage dentists to locate in rural areas of Kansas
The measure includes expanding services trained dental hygienists can provide after additional training and encourages work performed in charitable settings by current and retired dentists.