North Dakotans for Dental Access
North Dakotans for Dental Access News

Left and right agree: Time to expand dental care

As we come upon the holidays this year, it's nice to find an issue where both sides agree: a proven solution for increasing access to dental care.  

Families USA, a liberal public policy organization focused on health care, is educating their supporters on the facts and benefits of allowing dentists to hire dental therapists. In a section of their website under “Access to Dental Care” the group notes that “adding mid-level dental providers, like dental therapists, will expand access to essential dental care in underserved communities.”

The Heartland Institute, a conservative and libertarian public policy organization, also supports the concept. Michael Hamilton, a Heartland Institute research fellow and managing editor of Health Care News, recently wrote an op-ed on why state lawmakers should license dental therapists: “Instead of banning dental therapists from practicing—and depriving dentists of the right to hire them—state lawmakers should approve the licensure of dental therapists as a market-based solution to increasing oral care access for underserved patients.”

Hamilton also joined others in a recent visit to the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and saw first-hand how dental therapists are working for dentists in our neighbor to the east. To read his blog post on this experience and learn more about how this change can improve access to dental care, click here.

So while both organizations have different views on a variety of topics, one is pro-Affordable Care Act/Obamacare and one is against, at least on dental access and the need for dental therapists they have come together.

Letter to the Editor – Pushing for dental access in rural and Native American communities

Darius Sparks, who grew up on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, wrote a letter to area North Dakota newspapers telling his story about poor oral health care – and a potential solution to the problem.

“Fortunately for tribal members and all Americans, tribes in Alaska and in the Pacific Northwest are leading the way to improved access and delivery of dental care. Tribes in Alaska first launched the Dental Therapy program to address the serious oral health disparities they were seeing in villages across the state. Now they are seeing cavity free children for the first time in decades and over 40,000 Alaska Natives now have much-needed care.”

To read the full letter to the editor, click here.    

Feature article on retiring dentist in rural North Dakota
The Divide County Journal wrote a feature article recently on 70 year-old Dr. Bill Maisey, who is retiring from serving patients in Crosby after 31 years. The article, that can be seen here, illustrates the passion and love that Maisey holds for the community and patients. The excerpt below illustrates one of Maisey’s biggest concerns, now that he is retiring.
“He gives a great deal of credit to staff members for making the practice what it is.
Now, the search is on for a new dentist to either join the practice or become an associate. The shortage of dentists, everywhere, made the decision to retire especially difficult.
“There’s a need, especially on our side of the state,” said Bill. The Maiseys are hoping to get the word out to anyone who may know of a dentist looking for a place to practice.”

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