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The Dental Access Bill, Senate Bill 5465, had a public hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee on Monday, January 25, with members of the Washington Dental Access Campaign (WDAC)—representing the interests of children, elders, rural constituents, dental professionals and advocates for low-income people and communities of color—signing in PRO. Here are a few highlights from the testimony:
Dr. Kevin Nakagaki, DDS, has worked with dental therapists since they were first licensed to practice in Minnesota in 2011.
“Patients are very accepting of the Dental Therapist, as they are very familiar with the medical model of physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
“In my clinic, after hiring dental therapists, access for my population has increased, and the wait time to be seen has decreased by half. As I have shifted the straightforward dental restorations to the dental therapist, it has freed up my time to concentrate on more complex procedures.
“The dental therapists are very well trained to manage the pediatric population, and the patients (and parents) have been very satisfied-extremely satisfied with their care.
“As the dentists have had the opportunity to work with the therapists, they have found the concept safe, workable, desirable, and have begun requesting new hires for their offices.”
—Dr. Kevin Nakagaki, DDS, Minneapolis
Dental therapists provide safe, quality care. A review of more than 1,100 studies and reports found that dental therapists provide high-quality care. There have been zero adverse patient incidents in 10 years in Alaska and Minnesota. Dental therapists would provide routine and preventive care to Washingtonians who can’t currently get it. Approximately 5 out of 6 services provided by dental therapists are routine and preventive, like fillings. Dental therapists can work in schools, nursing homes, and community-based health centers—bringing care within reach of those who are currently shut out of a dental care system that isn’t working for everyone.
Lawmakers took a big step forward for kids last year with the passage and funding of the Early Start Act. This year, we can’t afford to let them take a big step backward.
Legislators are opening the first week of the 2016 session with a close look at Governor Inslee’s proposed supplemental budget. Here’s one item that kids, working parents and employers need them to pay attention to.