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Kansas initiative encourages ‘dental desert’ practice

Topeka, Kan. —The Kansas Initiative for New Dentists KIND will award its first grants in June to dentists who agree to start practices in communities designated as “dental deserts” for lack of a dentist within 20 miles. Applications are due May 15 for two awards of $50,000 each to assist a new dentist with student loan repayment over three years and to cover practice start-up costs for a relocating practicing dentist.

KIND is funded by the Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation and sponsored by the Kansas Dental Association.

Communities eligible for KIND placement include Greensburg, Medicine Lodge, Coldwater, Sublette/Satanta, Ness City and Sharon Springs. Grant recipients must commit to practice a minimum of three years in one of the areas designated as “dental deserts” by the 2011 Oral Health Workforce Assessment Project/Mapping the Rural Kansas Dental Workforce study by the University of Kansas Medical Center and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Dentists also are expected to designate 35 percent of services to underserved patients, including Medicaid patients, according to the KIND website, which offers an online application link and further detail. KIND, initiated in 2012, anticipates annual awards.