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.
Dental therapists are highly educated, trained and tested dental professionals. They have as much clinical experience in the procedures they’re certified to perform as a dentistry school graduate.
Dental therapists are good for the economy. They give dentists and community health clinics an opportunity to expand their business. With a dental therapist on staff, a Minnesota dental practice saw more than 1,700 additional patients in the first year of hiring a dental therapist.
Dental therapists are good for our health. At every age, tooth decay and other oral diseases can be prevented with access to affordable, regular dental care. Yet 34 out of Washington’s 39 counties lack enough dental professionals to meet community needs. Dental therapists will provide care to rural, low-income, and Tribal communities; communities of color; and patients who are publicly insured or uninsured.
Too many kids and families in these communities are not being adequately served by dentists—if at all. Children of color and kids in low-income households have the highest rates of dental decay and the fewest experiences with a dental professional. And because regular dental care prevents extensive and costly treatment in later years, dental therapists can build better oral health in Washington for decades to come.
Our elected representatives returned to Olympia last week for the 60-day legislative session. They are considering bills that would authorize dental therapy in tribal settings and statewide. The decisions they make can improve Washingtonian's lives right now, and for generations to come. Tell your lawmakers it’s time to say YES to dental therapy in Washington!