Missouri Southern Drops Dental School Plans

Michael W. Davis, DDS


Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) president Alan Marble, MS, PhD, has announced that MSSU’s proposed dental school project has been abandoned due to a lack of state funding. This projected effort was a joint collaboration between MSSU and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). 

The proposed school would have operated on Southern Missouri’s Joplin campus. According to the universities, a third dental school for the state would have alleviated access-to-care dental problems. The other two schools are the UMKC School of Dentistry and the Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health at A.T. Still University.

Others disagree with the need for an additional Missouri dental program. Jeffrey Dalin, DDS, a strong advocate for access-to-care and a founding member of the ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile outreach program, believes it would do little to address access-to-care issues.

“Yes, we do need dentists in underserved areas. And yes, it seems that the new graduates do not want to practice in those areas. They absolutely tend to stay in the larger cities. Opening a new dental school will not correct that problem,” advised Dalin.

Dalin has been a leadership fixture in Missouri dentistry for decades. Because of his tireless work addressing the dental needs of disadvantaged children, the ADA’s annual Give Kids A Smile award is today named the Jeffery B. Dalin Give Kids A Smile Award. Dalin also served as editor for the St. Louis Dentistry Magazine, which is the Greater St. Louis Dental Society’s journal, for more than 20 years. 

“Believe me, I am very sensitive to the access problems we have in our country. I am one of the founders of the Give Kids A Smile Program. We started this program here in St. Louis to address problems of access to care. Access to care is something very near and dear to me,” Dalin said. 

“There are other issues to consider. One large problem that nobody talks about when discussing new dental schools is a shortage of professors for these new schools. Most all dental schools across the country are always looking for teachers. They cannot even fill their faculties at established schools. This is something that needs to be considered,” he continued.

“Now back to the access problem. I think we have plenty of dentists, both new and experienced ones, that could be convinced to practice in these underserved areas. Most new dentists are graduating with a lot of school loan debt. Perhaps some of this debt could be forgiven if they agree to move to those needed areas,” Dalin said.   

“Do I think that we need another dental school in Missouri? We already have our state dental school in Kansas City and a relatively new school, A.T. Still Dental School, here in St. Louis. If we need more dental schools, I would look at states that don’t have any schools,” Dalin concluded.  

Dr. Davis practices general dentistry in Santa Fe, NM. He assists as an expert witness in dental fraud and malpractice legal cases. He currently chairs the Santa Fe District Dental Society Peer-Review Committee and serves as a state dental association member to its house of delegates. He extensively writes and lectures on related matters. He may be reached at mwdavisdds@comcast.net or smilesofsantafe.com.

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