Across the U.S. there is a shortage of dentists in rural areas, and parts of Kansas are no exception. Some 57,000 residents reside in "dental deserts" and must drive 30 minutes or more to see a dentist. Public-health experts are debating the use of registered dental practitioners to help bridge the gap. Opponents say that despite additional training and 500 hours of work directly supervised by a dentist, registered dental practitioners are not qualified to conduct advanced dental procedures safely. Those in favor say that the approach would improve access dental care, especially those most in need including children and the elderly.