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Office of Dental Health: Various Initiatives, Collaborations to Improve Dental Care Across Missouri

By Jacqueline Miller, DDS, MS, MPH

April 4, 2024

The Office of Dental Health (ODH) has been very busy! To help ODH better engage with various initiatives and collaborations aimed at improving dental care across Missouri, we welcomed Dr. Drue Barton, as Associate Dental Director, to our team. Dr. Barton has his MBA and certificate in public health and will focus on budgets, data and workforce. The Missouri Office of Dental Health remains committed to improving access to dental care and enhancing oral health outcomes across the state through various innovative programs, partnerships and policy initiatives. We appreciate the opportunity to share a snapshot of our current work provided below.

Provider Increase & Medicaid Coverage 

  • Our collaborative work with MO HealthNet to increase access to oral health care has resulted in an increase of 101 new dental providers in FY 2022 and 184 in FY 2023. The results have been 50,180 services provided to Medicaid recipients.
  • ODH continues to collaborate with MO HealthNet to expand coverage of dental services. With the increase of remuneration to 80 percent of usual and customary fees, it’s a great time to sign up!
  • Governor Parson has recommended an increase in remuneration for extractions and anesthesia in his FY25 budget.

Community Partnerships & Programs

  • The St. Louis Public School District is partnering with Colgate for dental screenings to take place this fall. ODH plans to follow up with the Preventive Services Program for the remaining schools.
  • Through ODH’s sealant program, funded through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cooperative agreement, contractors placed 10,500 sealants and conducted 4,293 student screenings across 90 schools. ODH collaborated with five contractors: UMKC, Jefferson County Health Department, Lincoln County Health Department, Missouri Southern State University and St. Louis Community College.
  • Preventive Services Program (PSP). PSP volunteers have screened more than 60,000 students so far this 2023-2024 school year. The program is now collaborating with “Score 1 for Health” and “Give Kids A Smile” to increase the number of children receiving an oral health review and education, including a toothbrush/paste, finding dental homes and getting two fluoride varnish applications. Starting in fall 2024, PSP is opening the opportunity to participate in oral health reviews to a wider range of professionals (i.e., dental assistants, licensed medical professionals, medical professional students and community dental/health care coordinators) and streamlining the team for efficiency.
  • ODH is also collaborating with the University of Missouri Medical School to integrate dental students into the Rural Immersion Program aimed at educating and encouraging rural practice opportunities.

Innovative Initiatives

  • ODH is working with Kansas City University (KCU) in Joplin on a tele-dentistry pilot program using dental lenses attached to existing Horus Scoptes within Benton and Goodman Elementary Schools. School nurses communicate with KCU dental providers to provide oral health care as needed. KCU’s Oral Health Center also will see students without a dental home to have their oral health needs met.
  • ODH is distributing 10,000 “Brushing for Two” dental kits for new moms to provide preventive measures to decrease dental decay upstream.
  • ODH is partnering with high schools in Pike/Lincoln and St. Charles Counties to offer dental assistant training, which should begin this fall.
  • ODH completed the Community Water Fluoridation Plan.

Dental Workforce Efforts 

  • ODH, in partnership with the MDA, is conducting a pilot study for establishing Oral Preventive Assistant Expanded Functions Dental Assistant (OPA EFDA). The pilot has selected nine sites, which are collecting control data until the program receives a waiver for OPA EFDAs to practice in the pilot sites. OPA EFDA candidates are finishing their training.
  • ODH also has a project using teledentistry as a method for dentists to supervise hygienists and assistants in nursing homes and other underserved, high-risk populations including veterans. Contractors have started delivering care to nursing home residents. ODH’s hope is that other states and perhaps countries can replicate the project protocols which would expand care opportunities for nursing homes and other populations across the globe.
  • ODH is updating the Missouri Oral Health Plan for 2025-2030.

Future Plans 

  • ODH is working with partners to explore opportunities and funding needs to expand the hygienist workforce through new training opportunities in Dexter and Rolla.
  • ODH is working with the St. Louis community to schedule a pop-up dental clinic with potential expansion to underserved areas using dental vans.
  • ODH is partnering with the Missouri Dental Board to conduct a workforce survey.

Welcome Dr. Drue Barton, Missouri’s New Associate State Dental Director

Meet Dr. Drue Barton, the Associate State Dental Director for the Office of Dental Health. Dr. Barton graduated from the Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health in 2017 with his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree and a certificate in public health. He also obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from Pittsburg State University in 2022. Dr. Barton is passionate about increasing access to dental care for underserved populations. He has participated in multiple dental mission trips and previously worked in outreach programs for rural schools and special needs facilities in southeast Kansas. Before starting with the Office of Dental Health, Dr. Barton worked for the MDA and played a key role in developing the curriculum for an Oral Preventative Assistant EFDA, a prospective workforce position. He believes the strain put on Missouri’s dental workforce will require innovation and collaboration to overcome. He is committed to finding new and creative ways to improve oral health and bringing together professionals from different backgrounds and expertise to create a more cohesive and effective healthcare system.

We welcome your comments and suggestions about our programs and initiatives. You can find resources and learn more at, or contact Dr. Miller or Dr. Barton for questions. Call 573-751-5874 or email or