Senate bill seeks to modify dental standards

Sen. Ken Jacob (D-Columbia) speaks out against dental bill.

Special to The Chart

Sen. Ken Jacob (D-Columbia) speaks out against dental bill.

Karena Wells

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Creating a new standard in dental care was the topic in the Senate March 2. Senate Bill 1222, sponsored by Sen. Charles Shields (R-St. Joseph) would modify provisions relating to the practice of dentistry.

Requirements would be set for all dental practices that would include investigation into the quality of service.

A new definition of “practice of dentistry” would allow anyone involved with a dentist’s professional judgment or anyone who reviews patient data in order to make judgments on the dental care of a patient.

Shields said dentistry is mainly a one-man operation where there is a constant pressure of being able to make a profit because of the amount of extensive expenditures.

“Right now, dentists offices are full of paying customers,” Shields said. “Taking patients on assistance creates lost profit.”

The bill would create specific groups to provide free dental care and make requirements for individuals seeking it.

The bill states a permit is required from the Missouri Dental Board before any organization can practice dentistry.

Sen. Ken Jacob (D-Columbia) said this might prevent not-for-profit groups from being able to offer dental care.

“I’m for promoting health care,” Jacob said, “and the ability to get health care for those who otherwise would not have it.”

His argument was many dental patients currently do not pay the cost of the dentist out of their own pocket, but insurance pays many of the bills.

Whether insurance rates would be altered if dental standards changed was a question.

A question was also raised about the chance of people falling through the cracks. They might not qualify for free dental care and might not be able to afford going to a regular dentist.

Jacob said everyone should be able to receive dental care at not-for-profit facilities. He believes patronizing free clinics would help to build up those facilities ability to serve those who need them most.

“At my clinic in St. Joe,” Shields said, “Sen. Jacob, they don’t want to see your teeth, they want to see your check.”

Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) was supportive of the bill.

“I think it is vitally important that dentists offices in Missouri abide by the standards of the Missouri Dental Association,” Nodler said.

The bill was placed on the informal calendar.