Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

Dental Therapists: Good for Oral Health, Good for Washington

FACT: Dental therapists will work within a narrowly defined scope of practice to provide important and needed routine and preventive care to Washingtonians who currently can’t get it.

EVIDENCE: In Alaska and Minnesota, 85 percent of services provided by dental therapists are routine and preventive. Dental therapists will provide care to rural, low-income, and Tribal communities; communities of color; and patients who are publicly insured or uninsured. Currently,  these communities and patients are not being adequately served by dentists—if at all. 

FACT: Dental therapists provide safe, quality care.

EVIDENCE: A review of more than 1,100 studies and reports found that dental therapists provide highquality care. There have been no adverse patient events from dental therapists’ care in Alaska and Minnesota. Actuaries set malpractice insurance rates for dental therapists in Minnesota at only $93 a year—compared to $775 a year, on average, for dentists—because their number-crunching determined that dental therapists are safe. According to an article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association,  “a variety of studies indicate that appropriately trained mid-level providers are capable of providing high-quality service.”
 

FACT: Dental therapists are highly educated, trained, and tested dental professionals.

EVIDENCE: Dental therapists undergo an intensive education program that includes more than 400 hours of practice during an internship alongside a dentist in the field. By the time they begin practicing, dental therapists have as much clinical experience in the procedures they are certified to perform as a dentistry school graduate. The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), an independent, national organization that develops and administers standards for dental education programs, has recognized dental therapy as a profession and adopted national standards for dental therapy education programs. CODA’s decision helps create a new career pathway for dental hygienists and allows local educational institutions to prepare training programs that are ready to roll out when dental therapists are authorized.

For more info: Litonya Lester • (206) 324-0340, ext. 15 • litonya.lester@childrensalliance.org.

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