New bill could bring dental care to more Kansans

Published: Feb. 17, 2017 at 7:21 AM CST
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A new bill making the rounds in Topeka could make it easier for hundreds of thousands of Kansans to get dental care.

Several Kansas counties don't have any dental options. This bill would allow certain dental professionals to do some of the work that would normally need to be done by a dentist.

Supporters of the bill say the bill would help fill in the gaps. For now, residents in areas without dentists need to travel in order to have their teeth checked or fixed.

This bill allows the Kansas Dental Board to create a new position, called a Dental Therapist. It's a mid-level position that is above a hygienist, but below a doctor.

Dental Therapists would help free up dentists.

"The dental therapist graduates it will allow dentist and safety net dental clinics to hire therapists to fill a gap." said Registered Dental Hygienist Kathy Trill, "We currently have more patients to treat than that who are receiving care right now. And it would allow the people to access the basic preventive care and regular dental care that they are not getting at this time."

Supporters say not only does it help fill the need in Kansas, it won't cost the state or taxpayers anything.

Under the legislation, Dental Therapists could fill cavities, make custom mouth guards, and pull teeth. The could also fix certain problems with crowns.

Several other states have similar laws in place, including Maine, Minnesota, Alaska and Vermont.