UMKC Dental School: Good News and Bad News

We are so lucky to have the UMKC Dental School in Kansas City. Each year the dental school graduates 100 new dentists. 72 of these dental students are residents of Missouri and 20 are from Kansas. The remaining slots are from other states. In a good year Missouri and Kansas retains approximately 70% of their graduates who actually set up practice in their home state. That is the good news!

The bad news is that more dentists are retiring than new dentists are graduating from school. The net effect is that in the next 10 years we will have much fewer dentists practicing than we do now. For those of us who care about the oral health needs of the poor, we currently are experiencing a drastic shortage of dentists who will care for the uninsured or those on Medicaid. This situation will only get worse unless we take action.

Since the UMKC Dental School turns away hundreds of qualified student applicants each year, the obvious question is why doesn’t UMKC train and graduate more dentists? As is usually the case it always comes back to money. It would cost the university money they claim they don’t have to build more labs and classrooms to train additional students. In addition, many current dentists with financial and political clout are not keen on the idea of having more dentists in the marketplace competing for their clients and potentially reducing their take home pay.

The new UMKC Dental School Dean will have his or her hands full trying to find a workable solution to this situation …it's a opportunity that can and must be addressed soon.



As a UMKC Alumni (not dental)and having received excellent service from the school at one time, not true of my most recent experiences. It is sad that this situation exists. I know that the school can provide quality services and I wonder how the other medical services can promote obesity control/prevention with so many people who cannot afford the current prices of dental care without insurance.


My grandaughter has applied twice at UMKC with no reason she wasn't accepted at UMKC. Her grades were good and she is a resident of Missouri. What in the world does she have to do to be accepted to your school? to get accepted? Missouri were good. I justcannot wasn't accepted. Ijust grades were dentist. Her uncle graduated from umkc and has a thriving business. Is there any hope for her?


It is also important to remember that pre-1970's, the dental college graduated 130-150 dentists. Then, national enrollment dramatically decreased in the late 70's so that when I graduated in 1993, we had the smallest class at UMKC Dental at 63. During this time, the dental school restructured and began to have administration, labs and other support functions in the unused dental areas. Now, enrollment is up and it would require a redesign of the space back to the 1970's layout. That is not an easy task. That is where a lot of the money comes into play. So apparently, the school feels that it can adequately train right at 100 student with available lab and clinical space. Yes, they are graduating few dentists, but for many, many years, there were fewer applicants as well.


Unfortunately, "money talks" in the real world, and it drives key business decisions from both the school's profitability perspective as well as other dentists trying to block competition to keep the price of service high. Perhaps the Dean should focus on getting more grants and getting alumni to donate more money to help fund the labs and award more scholarships to incoming students, so that UMKC will be able to admit more applicants, and graduate more dentists in our region.


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About Me

Steve Roling

Steve Roling

Steve Roling is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Each week he blogs about issues that inspire him as we work toward eliminating barriers to quality health.



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