The Directors of Nursing (DON's) of all 428 nursing homes in the state of Iowa were sent a pre-tested questionnaire. The aim of the study was to examine the perceptions by nursing directors on the utility of a dental component of the Minimum Data Set (MDS) in identifying residents with dental problems in their facility. The return rate was 55.1% from the DON's. It was reported that 66.4% of the homes had a training program for the MDS and that in 38.0% of the homes there was only one person doing the assessments. The majority (76.0%) of the DON's stated that the MDS was useful in tracking residents and that it did help them to identify dental problems. When asked how often it was useful in the identification of dental needs, only 9% stated that it was often useful. Also, regarding frequency of dental appointments for the residents, a mean of 51.0% of residents were estimated to have received some dental care during the previous year (means of 33.2% at the facility, 22.4% at a dental office, and 0.4% in a hospital). If change is to occur, the dental profession must try to get the nursing home assessors to convince the nursing homes to use the oral/nutritional/dental sections of the MDS as they were intended under the OBRA regulations.