Cass County Dental Clinic

Low-income children in Cass County, Missouri, have local access to oral health services for the first time in years. The Cass County Dental Clinic is the county’s only dental provider for Medicaid and low-income, uninsured children. Seventy-eight percent of patients come from Cass County, with 19 percent from Jackson County and the remainder from outlying areas.

On most days, the seats in the lobby of the Cass County Dental Clinic are nearly filled. The pediatric safety net dental clinic opened in summer of 2011 and quickly built a full patient load. Most of the families who use the clinic learned about it through the county’s school districts, early childhood programs, pediatricians and local promotional efforts. Almost 97 percent of the clinic’s current patients have Medicaid; three percent are self-pay.

The Cass County Dental Clinic operates as a program of the Cass Community Foundation (formerly Research Belton Foundation), which for a number of years had been partnering with private dentists and funding school-based screenings to support children’s access to dental services. In 2009, the Cass County Oral Health Coalition, a task force of business, health care, schools, government, foundations and community leaders, began a planning process to open a safety net dental clinic for the county.

The group’s outreach efforts and broad community support attracted foundation funding, in-kind donations from dentists and dental supply companies, and financial support from local service groups. The REACH Foundation has awarded program grants to support the clinic’s dental staff.  Other area foundations have funded the dental staff and medical equipment and other needs.

The clinic is staffed with a full-time dentist and dental hygienist, and one full-time and two part-time dental assistants. The clinic coordinator also is a dental hygienist. Two staff members speak Spanish, essential to meet the needs of families in the area. Services include X-rays, exams, fillings, extractions, crowns, cleanings, sealants and fluoride varnish. More importantly, the clinic is an important resource for oral health education in the community.

Families learn about the clinic through “backpack mail” and back-to-school events. Other referrals come through school-based oral health screenings, doctor’s offices, Head Start programs and Women, Infants, Children (WIC). In 2012, the clinic served 1,552 patients for 3,800 encounters. For 2013, the clinic looks to serve 1,600 patients for close to 4,000 encounters. Read more.

Find Cass County Dental Clinic at or call 816-322-7600.

Read “Missouri’s Oral Health:  Understanding and Overcoming Barriers to Oral Health Access” (June 2012):  Full report / Executive Summary.

Related Story:  Safety Net Solutions

The Cass County Dental Clinic is one of three clinics in the REACH Foundation’s service area that are benefiting from a grant to Safety Net Solutions, a program of the DentaQuest Institute, that provides assessment, technical assistance and coaching to improve efficiency, access, revenue and long-term sustainability of dental programs. Read more.