Too many Washingtonians can't get the care they need
Out-of-date laws are keeping Washingtonians from receiving the oral health care that is vital to their overall health. Modernizing our laws will add a new mid-level oral health care provider to the dental team, allowing dentists to focus on more complicated procedures.
Highly trained professionals, these new providers work with their supervising dentist to extend care to the people that need it most. Already working in other states, this is a proven workforce solution that increases access to dental care where people need it most, in their own communities.
The Washington Dental Access Campaign is in support of new providers that are based on providers with a 90 year history, in over 50 countries. Every study conducted on the providers show they provide safe, quality care to patients.
They are a common sense part of the solution.
Evidence indicates that dental therapy legislation has potential to improve oral health and overall health outcomes, particularly for low-income and communities of color as well as individuals with medical disabilities or chronic conditions. These communities are disproportionately impacted by negative oral and other health impacts; therefore improving health outcomes for these populations would likely decrease health disparities.
Dental therapists have made it possible for clinics to decrease travel time and wait times for some patients, increasing access. Savings from the lower costs of dental therapists are making it more possible for clinics to expand capacity to see public program and underserved patients.
Dental Therapists will expand dental care access to families and communities, save money by providing high quality routine, cost-effective care and preventing dental emergencies, and support stronger communities by creating family wage jobs and ensuring good oral health for everyone.
Dental Therapists help make the dental team more efficient. Dental Therapists do a very limited set of commonly needed procedures. When Dental Therapists handle routine procedures, dentists can do the more complicated procedures they went to dental school for. This is good for job satisfaction as well as good for business.
We need to strengthen communities by creating family wage jobs and cutting costs. Dental Therapists bring jobs to their communities: for the dental team, as well as for office secretaries and even the landlord collecting rent from a once-empty storefront. On average, Dental Therapists cost only 30 cents for every dollar of revenue they generate. Preventive care offered by Dental Therapists can prevent costly emergency room visits for dental-related health problems. This saves taxpayers valuable dollars.
“They’ll get actually more training than a dentist does [within] a small scope of practice. I think a dental therapist model could be utilized in any dental office anywhere in the United States.”
—Dr. Mary Williard, DDS
Mid-level dental providers, known as dental therapists, successfully practice in more than 50 countries and have a 90-year history. Support for this innovative provider continues to grow.
Modernizing our laws will boost the dental team with a proven workforce-based solution: a mid-level oral health care provider that will deliver the routine care and oral health education that families need.
A recent study out of Minnesota and Alaska found mid-level dental providers, called dental therapists, are successfully and safely increasing access to oral health care to the people that need it most.