Remove barriers to more & lower cost dental care

February 25, 2018 by  

Dental Therapy may be a new term to many of us, but oral care professionals called Dental Therapists are nothing new to patients in 54 countries who have received their dental care from a licensed Dental Therapist – even as far back as the 1920’s!  DTs currently practice in several U.S. states as well.  It’s time Arizona allow Dental Therapists to work in Arizona, too.  Especially since they have proven to be as safe and effective as a licensed dentist for the services they provide – but for a lower cost. 

Dental Therapists are not Dentists.  They are trained to the same standards as a licensed Dentist, but only do about 80, less complicated procedures – where a Dentist is trained in about 435.  Dental Therapists are also supervised by a Dentist – and may only work under a Dentist’s license and authority – like a Physician Assistant in a medical practice.  Similarly, where they are part of a Dentist’s clinical team, Dental Therapists can magnify the number of patients the practice can treat which is critical in areas where there are few, if any, practicing Dentists.

But even though every single county in Arizona was recently designated with the greatest professional dentist shortage by percentage in the entire country and over 1,000 reports deem the care Dental Therapists provide as safe and effective compared with dentists, the Dental Association is still adamantly opposes this free market solution – citing safety concerns.

Facts are facts, however, and legislators in the Senate voted 22-9 to pass SB 1377, sending the bill on to the House for further consideration.  Here is my editorial from the Ariz. Capitol Times and this 2017 report by Goldwater Institute for more about dental therapy.

Enabling health care to evolve is disruptive to the status quo.  The ADA’s vacuous arguments are reminiscent of those when Arizona took steps allowing Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants in the medical community to serve patients more than a decade ago, greatly improving access to care to many.

 Learn more here or listen to Nancy’s recent Heartland Institute interview via podcast here.

Not everyone in Arizona has dental insurance. Nor do most qualify for dental care under Medicaid.  The need is great and regular dental care is critical to everyone’s health.  Let the free market work – so more of us can afford quality oral health care.


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