AARP Kansas is backing legislation in 2015 that could expand dental care for nursing home residents in underserved parts of the state.
Data provided in 2013 by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment showed 37 of the state’s 105 counties did not have a dentist that accepted Medicaid. Currently, 13 counties do not have a dentist at all, according to the nonprofit Kansas Dental Project.
The proposed legislation would allow highly trained dental hygienists, known as registered dental practitioners, to provide dental care at nursing homes, schools and other facilities. Supervised by dentists (perhaps off-site), the practitioners would clean teeth, fill cavities and adjust dentures.
The measure could be especially helpful for nursing home residents who have mobility impairments or lack transportation in rural areas. Studies have shown more than one-third of nursing home residents in Kansas have untreated dental decay.