The four states area is in need of more dentists
New dental school could benefit dental patients
JOPLIN, Mo. — The Four States Area is in dire need of more dentists.
The lack of dental professionals is ultimately hurting the patients that are seeking dental care.
“If somebody really has a problem tooth or a severe cavity a crown is broken something where they need to get in urgently they can have a real problem if they don’t have a relationship already with a dentist there’s just not enough to go around” said Steven Douglas.
Access Family Care is a community health center that focuses on giving care to the underserved community, Marketing and Public Relations Director, Steven Douglas, says that finding dentists for the area is extremely hard.
“We’ve had a really difficult time that we are literally in a nationwide search that we’ve gone to the east coast the west coast really trying to find dentists anywhere we can”
KCU announced they will be starting a dental school in the Joplin area. This new school is giving dental clinics in the area some hope for more health care professionals in the future.
“The four state area is what makes this a great opportunity because within 125 miles as Dr. Haun said just about every county is an underrepresented health professional shortage area” said Dr. Jim Koelbl, DDS, KCU’s Vice provost for Oral Health.
The students at the school will eventually be able to help clinics provide care to the areas that are in need.
“In this curriculum we will accelerate the educational process by then end of the 3rd year our students will be ready to go out and practice” added Koelbl.
Douglas says that having more dentists readily available will help minimize the wait times for patients.
“It’s also an opportunity for us to recruit and try to keep them here but more importantly it provides great dental care to the people we serve who right now are having to wait months to see a provider.”
According to Douglas, some patients are having to wait up to 5 months for an appointment because there are just not enough dentists to fit everyone on time.
According to a 2018 article by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Missouri is ranked 7th in the list of dentist health professional care shortage areas. Oklahoma is ranked as 11th and Kansas sits at the 20th spot.
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