Group gets funding to tackle the state’s dental issues

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A group that works to get more Kansans in the dentist’s chair now has more money to do it.

For some, visiting the dentist chair is easier said than done.

Wabaunsee County Commissioner Ervan Stuewe says he hasn’t seen one in the area for at least 15 years.

“We used to have some dentists out of Manhattan and Wamego that would have a satellite office in Wabaunsee County and they did that for a period of years and then they found that it was easier for us to go to them than it was for them to come to us.”

So many find themselves in Wamego at the Community Health Ministry, but some can’t go next door. Research out of KU Med shows there are 10 communities considered Dental Deserts because residents are more than 30 minutes away from a dentist’s office.

“In order for people to have access to good oral health, they need to have access to a provider and they need to have access to a way to pay for it,” says Executive Director for Oral Health Kansas, Inc. Tanya Dorf Brunner, “So that’s what this is about, how to we get providers into the right places and how do we make sure people are able to pay for it.”

Oral Health Kansas now has $100,000 from the federal group DentaQuest to come up with a plan to make that happen.

“They are working in 25 states right now to come up with creative solutions and each state gets to pick different things to work on,” she says, “Here we’re working on, [making] the policies work better and let’s make sure the financing methods match the policies.”

The organization will use the money to hire a team and cover travel expenses throughout the state for research.

They will present their plan to DentaQuest in December and if it’s approved, they’ll get more funding to actually implement it.

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