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Dec. 8, 2010
The Kansas Dental Project today released the first of three planned videos illustrating the severity of the state’s dental workforce shortage.
The nine-minute video was distributed online, to community groups around the state and will be presented to policymakers when the Legislature convenes in January.
The second video — to be released next month — will detail how the problem is effecting Kansans and the state's economy. The last video, scheduled for release in February, details the Kansas Dental Project's plan to address the problem.
The group's’s primary strategy is to pursue legislation permitting a mid-level provider, known as a “dental therapist,” to practice in Kansas.
The therapists provide a specific set of routine services, freeing dentists to see more patients and focus on more complex issues.
Dental therapists have been used in other countries for decades and more recently elsewhere in the United States to address the widespread shortage of dentists.
“The shortage of dentists in Kansas is a serious problem,” said Shannon Cotsoradis, speaking for the Kansas Dental Project. “Charity care and efforts to recruit more dentists to rural areas are no longer enough. We need to put a real solution in place before the shortage gets any worse.”
The organization is a foundation-funded effort that includes the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition, Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved and Kansas Action for Children. It’s goal is to reduce the shortage of dental professionals in the state and increase access to dental care for Kansans living in rural and underserved communities.
“Ninety-one Kansas counties do not have enough dentists to serve their residents. And, 14 of those counties have no dentists at all,” Cotsoradis said. “Access to health care — including dental care — is a critical part of strengthening the economy in our rural communities and protecting the quality of life in rural Kansas.”
The video series features footage and interviews from communities hurt by the dental shortage. It was produced this summer in-house by KDP staff.
The video can be downloaded for free here (right click+save as) or viewed by streaming below.
Update: Videos 2 and 3 in the series are now available: