North Dakotans for Dental Access
North Dakotans for Dental Access News

Support for dental therapists continues to grow

March 2016

Dental health is a major signifier of overall health. Poor dental health is linked to several serious health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases. Even so, access to routine, affordable dental care continues to be a challenge for many areas in North Dakota and across the nation. There just aren’t enough dentists to meet the demand for dental care.
Fortunately, allowing dentists to hire dental therapists (or advanced practice dental hygienists) is gaining popularity and support. This is because they have been proven to help dentists increase access to dental care among underserved populations.
In the past month, several publications wrote stories about the need for dental therapists, and the impact they are having across the country. Please, take a minute to review and share these stories. And as always, you can read all the media coverage about this issue on our website.
Thanks for reading!
Access to Dental Care in Medicaid: Spotlight on Nonelderly Adults
By Elizabeth Hinton and Julia Paradise − Kaiser Family Foundation
Oral health is a critical but often overlooked component of overall health and well-being.[1] Although good oral health can be achieved through preventive care, regular self-care, and the early detection, treatment, and management of problems, many people suffer from poor oral health, which often has additional adverse effects on their general health and quality of life.[2] The prevalence of dental disease and tooth loss is disproportionately high among people with low income, reflecting lack of access to dental coverage and care. Racial and ethnic disparities in these measures are also pronounced. Read more...

Why Native Americans want a new form of dental care
By Dan Gorenstein Marketplace
It’s a sobering statistic: Native American preschoolers have four times more cavities than white children.
Since many dentists don’t take Medicaid, because of low rates of reimbursement, it can be incredibly difficult to get care.
One solution: hiring a new type of dental practitioner, a dental therapist, who can do simple procedures, like cleanings, fillings and extractions. Read more...
Children’s Dental Health Disparities: New research on the problem and what can be done
By John Grant and Andrew Peters − The Pew Charitable Trusts
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among U.S. children, five times as prevalent as asthma,[1] and dental care is one of the nation’s greatest unmet children’s health needs, especially in low-income, minority, and rural communities.[2]
Fortunately, two policy solutions proved to increase access to dental care for children are gaining ground across the country: School-based sealant programs have been shown to reduce decay by an average of 60 percent over five years,[3] and adding midlevel providers—often called dental therapists—to the dental team can help vulnerable populations get the preventive and routine restorative treatment they need.[4] Read more...

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