kansas dental project

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

Advocates for allowing dental hygienists with advanced training to perform a broader range of procedures are now in their fifth year of trying to convince legislators to approve the necessary changes in state law.

Wearing bright yellow and black scarves, they rallied Wednesday morning and then headed for meetings with legislators to press their case for expanding access to services in a state where 95 of 105 counties have a shortage of dental providers .

Byrle Gross

Final numbers are still being tallied, but close to 2,000 people received free dental care Friday and Saturday at the Kansas Coliseum, near Wichita. 

Close to 500 dental professionals and at least that many other volunteers took care of the crowds that began gathering Thursday morning in the Kansas Coliseum parking lot.  Suzanne Wikle, who heads the Kansas Dental Project, says the Mission of Mercy is great, but it will never be enough.

KDHE report on Kansas dental workforce

Analysts have known for years that Kansas has a severe shortage of dentists -- and that shortage is getting worse.