Today the Swinomish Tribe in Washington state is taking the historic step of hiring an Alaska-trained dental therapist to bring preventive and routine dental care to its members.
In doing so, the Swinomish are taking the lead in providing preventive and routine care that’s been blocked for too many years.
The Children’s Alliance enthusiastically supports this action by the Swinomish to improve oral health. As the Tribe has noted, its dental professionals see twice as many patients as average oral health care providers. Hiring a dental therapist is an affordable way to meet the clinic’s demand for routine, preventive care.
This is a big step forward in the delivery of oral health care in non-Native communities as well. Too many kids, seniors, low-income families, communities of color, people with special needs, and people who live in rural communities don’t have access to the care we all need to stay healthy. Dental therapists like Daniel Kennedy, who bring care to people where they live, can help.
We applaud the Swinomish for their leadership. Despite the entrenched opposition of one corner of the dental profession, we will continue to work with the Swinomish Tribe and other community-based members of the Washington Dental Access Campaign to make dental therapists a reality across the state.
All Washingtonians should have access to high-quality dental care in their communities. The Children’s Alliance calls on lawmakers to pass House Bill 1421 authorizing dental therapists to bring quality care to children, families, and communities in need.