In Oregon, oral health and tribal advocates have pledged that they will continue to fight for legislation that would permanently authorize dental therapists to work throughout the state.
SB 1549, sponsored by Oregon state Sen. Laurie Monnes-Anderson (D-Gresham), a retired public health nurse, failed to move out of the state Senate Committee on Health Care during this year’s short and tumultuous legislative session. The session came to a sudden close March 5 with majority Democrats and minority Republicans deadlocked over a climate change measure. Continue reading
Dental therapists began serving tribal communities in Oregon under a pilot program in 2016. Late last year, the state’s health authority approved another pilot, based at Pacific University, that is soon set to begin educating a small cohort of new therapists.
Now a state senator is backing legislation that would allow the mid-level dental providers, often compared to physician’s assistants, to work throughout the state. Continue reading
A new initiative launched by grassroots and tribal organizations aims to accelerate efforts to bring dental therapists to millions of Americans in communities where oral health services are scarce.
The National Partnership for Dental Therapy seeks to build visibility and support for midlevel dental workers, according to its organizers.
“Everyone, including the most vulnerable in our country and those in hard-to-reach areas, should have the opportunity to get basic oral health care,” said Tera Bianchi, program director with the nonprofit Community Catalyst, which is co-sponsoring the partnership together with the National Indian Health Board (NIHB). Continue reading
Photo: Legislative Support ServicesBrian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, speaks at the February 22 bill signing for Washington state’s SB 5079 which increases access to affordable dental care. Behind him are Sen. John McCoy, left, and Gov. Jay Inslee, right.
Kathy Hoekstra’s beat covering national regulatory issues for the public interest news organization Watchdog.org, now has led her to America’s dental divide.
In recent months, Hoekstra has focused on the legal angle to examine the dental therapist debate now roiling in statehouses across the country.
Dental therapists often are compared to nurse practitioners in the medical world. Trained in a narrow range of preventive and restorative procedures and employed in some countries around the globe, they have attracted supporters among U.S. oral health advocates who see the speciality as an affordable means to expand access to dental services for millions of Americans who currently lack routine care. Continue reading
Photo: Mark via Flickr
Minnesota’s first dental therapists went to work six years ago. Now approximately 70 of the licensed midlevel providers are offering preventive and restorative care in clinics and dental offices around the state.
When state legislators approved the dental therapist model in 2009, they hoped the addition to the state’s dental workforce would expand access for underserved Medicaid patients. Lack of care for poor patients is a problem in the state, as it is across the country. Continue reading