North Dakotans for Dental Access
North Dakotans for Dental Access News

Oral health concerns in minority groups

Thanks for continuing to read this newsletter, from North Dakotans for Dental Access. We appreciate your interest and support over the past year and a half.

As you may recall, the April interim Health and Human Services Committee hearing included testimony from Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H. W. Bush. For those who wish to review testimony from all who participated, click here for the information on the North Dakota Legislative website.

We hope you enjoy some of the following stories from across the country about dental health and how Native Americans and rural Americans are impacted and responding to this overwhelming concern.

Where Dentists Are Scarce, American Indians Forge a Path to Better Care
By Kirk Johnson, New York Times

“Poor oral health has plagued tribal lands across the nation. Indian preschool-aged children had four times the rate of untreated tooth decay as white children in a recent study. Poverty, diet and a decades-long lack of access to good care on remote reservations compound the problem.

But Indians and health experts now see hope: If formally trained dentists are scarce, they ask, can people who master many of a dentist’s skills but lack the professional degree get the job done just as well? ...

Dr. Rachael R. Hogan, a dentist…supervises [a midlevel dental provider’s] work. At first she did not think the arrangement would work…‘I was leery, she said. But after watching Mr. Kennedy for the past four months and visiting the training school in Alaska, she has changed her mind. By practicing procedures over and over — more than most dental school graduates, who must also study a broad range of diagnostic and disease issues — therapists can hone procedures, she said, to an art.

‘Their fillings are better,’ she said. ‘Are we providing substandard care by providing a therapist? Actually, I would say it’s the opposite.”

Click on the link below to read more.

Dental Health is Worse in Communities of Color
By Jane Koppelman and Rebecca Singer Cohen

“Dental care is one of the nation’s greatest unmet health needs. In particular, communities of color have much higher rates of tooth decay and tooth loss and fewer dental visits and preventive treatments than white populations. Economic hardship also negatively affects access to dental care for many people of color.”

Click on the link below to read more.

VT Tech Lays Groundwork for Dental Therapy Program
By Rachel Aragon, Nexstar TV

“Vermont Technical College is laying out the groundwork for students to become dental therapists. It's a new position in Vermont, which aims to provide services to more patients. The Vermont legislature passed a bill this session to license dental therapists. It’s a mid-level provider position with many Vermonters eager to give it a try. The college currently has a draft curriculum for the dental therapy program.”

Click on the link below to read more.

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