Missouri's Oral Health Caucus discusses dental care accessibility for the underserved

Monday, March 11, 2013 | 9:04 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, is looking forward to practicing her trade again.

A former dental hygienist who is now a state representative, Lichtenegger will participate in an upcoming clinical event called Missouri Mission of Mercy where dentists and oral hygienists will donate their time to serve Missouri citizens. The Missouri General Assembly Oral Health Caucus heard about the new event and more at its meeting Monday night.

The Missouri Mission of Mercy clinic will be open from May 3 to 4 at the Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau and will work on a first-come, first-served basis. The clinic will provide dental care to anyone that needs it. Mission of Mercy hopes to serve 2,000 patients. More information is available at Missouri Mission of Mercy’s website.

The Oral Health Caucus has so far succeeded in getting Delta Dental to pledge $50,000 dollars a year for the next three years toward the creation of a new position — state dental director, which the state needs to establish to qualify for federal oral health grant money.

Katie Schroeder of Cass County Dental Clinic and Toniann Richard of the Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri also gave brief presentations to the caucus about the organizations they represent. Both aim to improve access to dental care among poor and underserved children across the state.

"There are some people that drive a good hour to the clinic for care," Schroeder said.

Patients are not turned away because of geography at the Cass County clinic, she said. The clinic works as a safety net for people who are under 21 and uninsured, with low income or on Medicaid.

Barring scheduling conflicts, the caucus will meet again April 8.

Supervising editor is Karen Miller.

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