Dental

Jack Gouverneur stands looking into the camera. He is 86 years old, has many wrinkles and is balding. He wears a blue and black striped polo. There is an American flag flying over his left shoulder.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Jack Gouverneur is an 86-year-old Korean War veteran who lives in Carthage, Missouri. Last month, over the course of a weekend, he waited in line for hours to get free dental care at the sixth annual MOMOM or Missouri Mission of Mercy. 

MOMOM is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin, Missouri.

 

Jack does have dental insurance, but said MOMOM happened at the "right time," and allowed him to get three teeth extracted without having to pay his insurance co-pays. He reflected on the dental care he has received throughout his 86 years.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Edna Hardy, left, wears a blue shirt and wears wire rimmed glassees. She has short, brown hair. Katrina Hale, right, wears a purple and gray hoodie, also wears glasses and has long, dark hair pulled back into a ponytail.
Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Edna Hardy and Katrina Hale are sisters who live in Miami, Oklahoma. Last month they traveled over the Oklahoma-Missouri border to get free dental care at the 6th annual MOMOM or Missouri Mission of Mercy.

MOMOM is a once a year, two-day dental clinic providing free care for anyone who’s willing to wait in line. It’s in a different place every year, and this year the event was held in Joplin, Missouri.

Edna and Katrina spoke about some of the struggles they have faced getting adequate care throughout the years. 

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

In the current debates over health care, one topic rarely gets mentioned: dental health benefits. That’s because dental health has historically been separated from the rest of medicine. But today, that separation leaves many Americans with no way to prevent or treat debilitating dental health problems.

Author Mary Otto tells the story of the rampant disparities in dental health in the United States and how those play into other disparities of race, class and income in her new book, Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.


Earlier this year, 69-year-old Aneita McCloskey needed her two front teeth filed down and capped.

“They were kind of worn down and they were also getting little tears and cavities,” she recalls.

Without dental insurance, McCloskey is on the hook for the full $2,400 cost of the procedure. She was given 18 months to pay it before she gets charged interest. That’ll be hard to do on her fixed income.

In years past she would have had to wait to see the dentist again until she could afford it.


St louis
paparutzi / Flickr

  A federal judge in St. Louis is weighing whether to sign off on a $1.6 million settlement to a class-action lawsuit involving tens of thousands of unsolicited faxes.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

In January, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced the state would expand dental benefits to an estimated 282,000 Medicaid recipients for the Fiscal Year 2016. The expansion is being funded with money collected from a one-time tax amnesty for delinquent taxpayers.

This marks the first time dental benefits have been included in Medicaid coverage in Missouri since 2005.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

More than 1,700 people waited in line for hours to get free dental care at a clinic in Columbia, Mo. this month. The turnout for this clinic, called the Missouri Mission of Mercy, reveals a hidden crisis: the expense of dental care and lack of access are major obstacles for many throughout the state and the country.

Throughout the event, held July 31st - August 1st, a team of reporters from the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk spoke to the patients receiving treatment at the event, and the volunteers who made it all possible.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

  

 Missouri Mission of Mercy, or MOMOM, hopes to provide free dental care for up to 2,000 Missourians this weekend at the Hearnes Center in Columbia. 

This is the fourth year dentists, hygienists and other volunteers from across the state have come together to provide cleanings, fillings and extractions free of charge.


Today Paul Pepper and LORI HENDERSON talk about the Missouri Mission of Mercy (or MOMOM) Dental Clinic, which provides services for those in need, free of charge. Find out why you need to mark your calendars for July 31 and August 1! At [4:35] JOE BOGUE and ERICA BRUINGTON tell us about "Leading Ladies," a new comedy from Maplewood Barn Theatre that opens tonight! July 1, 2015

A Missouri lawmaker is calling on Gov. Jay Nixon to preserve dental benefits for Medicaid recipients in next year's state budget when he signs the $26.4 billion spending plan into law later this month.

News coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including: 

  • A Missouri inmate scheduled to be put to death next week is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to halt the execution.
  • A Kansas City-bound Southwest Airlines jet backed into a stationary JetBlue Airways plane.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department says there are patients who sought appointments through the VA medical center in St. Louis that were never seen.
  • A Missouri lawmaker is calling on Gov. Jay Nixon to not cut dental benefits from next year's state budget.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

  Note: A portion of this story was aired as part of the Health & Wealth Update for 5/14/2014

When I think about adult dental care in Missouri, I think of Ben Affleck. In the movie Argo, CIA agent Tony Mendez, played by Affleck, pitches his plan to extract six American hostages from Iran by pretending to be on a Hollywood scouting trip. The CIA director doesn’t think it’ll work and wants to look for a better option. That’s when Mendez says:

“There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.”

That’s what it’s like for Missourians who can’t afford private dental insurance. Back in 2005 Missouri de-funded dental care for all Medicaid recipients except, children, pregnant women and the disabled. And it’s left a lot of people with only bad options.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Back in 2005, Missouri de-funded dental care for all Medicaid recipients except, children, pregnant women and the disabled. And it’s left a lot of people with only bad options.

Conor Lawless / Flickr

The Missouri House of Representatives has proposed adding $48 million in federal and state funds to next year’s Medicaid budget to cover adult dental care. Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to the additional $48 million, but with some caveats. The money would only be used to pay for preventative dental care, like maintenance and extraction procedures. Part of the $48 million would also go towards paying dentists more for these procedures. Currently, the state only reimburses dentists up to 35 percent of usual and customary costs.

dentist
Herry Lawford / flickr

Missouri lawmakers appear likely to restore dental coverage for hundreds of thousands of adult Medicaid recipients, nearly a decade after it was eliminated.

Anderson Mancini / Flickr

While the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion have been the topics du jour in recent weeks, one of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare in the state of Missouri may be oral health. In 2012 The Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States issued a report card for all 50 states based on eight benchmarks that they consider important steps to improve and expand access to dental health. Missouri received a grade of C, having met or exceeded only half of those benchmarks.

missouri capitol
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

The Department of Health and Senior Services has appointed Missouri’s first dental director in more than a decade.

Dr. Ray Storm is a dentist from the St. Louis area. He founded Give Kids a Smile, a nonprofit that holds annual free dental clinics for children in need. The Missouri Oral Health Coalition helped raise the funds to reinstate the position in the state. Gary Harbison, the coalition’s director, said he’s pleased with Storm’s appointment.

The AT Still Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health in Kirksville is scheduled to open October 1st, after receiving initial accreditation last week.

Dean Christopher Halliday says many people in rural areas such as Kirksville are underserved when it comes to dental care. He hopes the opening of the school will fix that issue.

“I want to raise the awareness with our students of the fact that there are huge segments of population in this country that just for whatever reason, for a variety of reasons,  don’t have access to oral health,” Halliday said.

Fried Dough / Flickr

On this week's show, we'll take a closer look at smoking bans in Missouri.

The Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States recently released a report or oral health that didn’t speak too highly of Missouri. On an A through F scale, it gave the state a D for its efforts to provide access to dental sealants for high-need kids. Dental sealants are plastic coatings put on children’s molars after they first come in that help prevent decay.

New dental school targets Missouri's dentist shortage

Jun 27, 2012
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

About 20 percent of Missourians live in areas where there aren't enough dentists, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In Kirksville, the A.T. Still University is tackling the problem by building a new school of dentistry, which, in a few years, will be graduating dozens of new dentists each year.

New Providers Could Fill Gap in Rural Dental Care

Oct 27, 2011
kansasdental.com

Able to clean teeth, like a hygienist, but also fill cavities like a dentist. If you've never heard of a registered dental practitioner, it's probably because they are only legal in two states, Alaska and Minnesota. Like nurse practitioners, these mid-level providers are aimed at helping underserved rural areas.