North Dakotans for Dental Access
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Study shows improved health for those served by dental therapists

North Dakota Dental Care Myths and Facts:

Fact: ND is 3rd worst in the nation at providing dental care to Medicaid-enrolled kids, with 65% not seeing a dentist in 2015.[i]

Alaska study shows improved oral health outcomes for those served by dental therapists

A University of Washington School of Dentistry study of ten years of patients in Alaska Native communities shows children and adults had lower rates of tooth extractions and more preventive care when served by dental therapists versus not receiving those services. This first-of-its-kind study used patient records and Medicaid claim data to count the number of dental therapist treatment days to show the improvement to children and adult dental health outcomes.

“This study showcases what we have seen for years, Dental Health Aide Therapists are improving the health outcomes of Alaskans,” said Diane Kaplan, president & CEO, of Rasmuson Foundation. The study, led by Donald Chi, DDS, PhD was funded in part by the Rasmuson Foundation, which works to promote a better life for Alaskans.

Go here for more information on the study, or click here or here to read what news media is reporting.  


Dentist group internal polling shows 50% support for Dental Therapy

A monthly “quick poll” administered by the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network in late 2016, and taken by almost 500 dentists or hygienists, shows 48 percent believe dentists in their state should have the option to hire dental therapists. The majority of those who participated knew about dental therapists before taking the poll; only 7 percent weren’t familiar with this type of dental health professional. Of those who responded, 41 percent agreed that a dental therapist would expand access to care for low income and other underserved groups, while only 33 percent said they wouldn’t. Click here to read more.

Oregon Tribes hire their state’s first dental therapist

According to a National Indian Health Board press release, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) in July became the first in Oregon to join the dental therapy movement, hiring Dental Therapist and CTCLUSI member Naomi Petrie to provide oral health services in the community. Petrie, who began work at CTCLUSI's dental clinic on July 17, is the first Oregon student to graduate from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's dental therapy education program and return home to practice.

CTCLUSI is turning to dental therapists to assist dentists in making dental services available to tribal members who have long done without timely dental care in their own communities. Similar to the way nurse practitioners and physician assistants work with doctors, dental therapists work with dentists, either on site or remotely, to reach more people. Dental therapists deliver a core set of preventive and restorative services, including fillings and simple extractions.

North Dakota licensing boards facing FTC scrutiny

Earlier this year the North Dakota Legislature passed a resolution calling for the study of the membership and state supervision of the state's occupational and professional licensing boards in order to retain antitrust law immunity. The full resolution can be read here.

According to a former lieutenant governor, this means the state legislative interim committee that has oversight on boards and commissions will have its hands full. In a recent column Lloyd Omdahl takes a look at the resolution and addresses a Federal Trade Commission review and ruling that will likely impact boards like the North Dakota Board of Dental Examiners.

Click here to read Omdahl’s full column.                                          
[i] UND Center for Rural Health. Oral Health among ND Medicaid Recipients. December 2016.

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