Where are all the dentists coming from? Within just a few years, some could be coming from southwestern Missouri.

About 80 members of the Inaugural Class of 2027 took part in a white coat ceremony recently at the all-new Kansas City University’s College of Dental Medicine in Joplin. What’s the advantage of having a dental school in southwest Missouri?

“The number one thing is access to care,” said dental student Aaron David. “In southwest Missouri, (the) whole four states area, access to dental care is just extremely limited.”

David, 38, is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and he is already a Certified Dental Assistant.

The new school is housed in a three-story state-of-the-art facility. Dr. Erinne Kennedy, DMD, is an assistant professor at the school and Assistant Dean for Curriculum and Integrative Learning.

“We have an ADA chair simulation clinic that allows students to practice and participate in experiential learning during the first two years of the curriculum,” Kennedy said. “We have two floors that actually (have) 92 chairs of dental clinic operatories, and these operatories are state of the art, with digital dentistry (and) digital radiography.”

Nearly every county within a 125-mile radius of Joplin qualifies as an officially designated Dental Health Professional Shortage Area.

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