oral health

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.

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.

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.

A T Still university
A.T. Still University

A new Kirksville dental school is seeking to ease a shortage of dentists in Missouri.

The Columbia Missourian reports that the Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health opened Tuesday at A.T. Still University. The only other dental school in the state is at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The new dental school's initial class of 42 includes only nine Missouri residents. But the school hopes that its health center placement program will persuade many of them to remain in state.

Flickr / San Jose Library

The Missouri General Assembly now has an oral health caucus. Co-chaired by Reps. Donna Lichtenegger (R-Jackson) and Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves), the caucus held its first meeting Monday, Feb. 11. A big item on the caucus' agenda? Reinstating the position of dental director in the state's health department. 

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.