States Battle the Shortage of Dentists with Dental Health Aides and Hygienists

States Battle the Shortage of Dentists with Dental Health AidesThis week at the University of Minnesota the first class of dental therapists and advanced dental therapists will be taking their board exams.

Minnesota is one of the leading states in a new trend in dental care with the Minnesota legislature considering a a pending bill to allow dental hygienists to perform extractions and dental fillings without the presence of a dentist.

An alarming trend . . . ?

This seems to be just the beginning of what many dentists see as an alarming trend, as several other states are currently considering granting hygienists licenses to open their own hygiene practices without any supervision from a dentist.

These new types of dental health aides and dental health practices are suppose to improve access to dental care in places where dentists aren’t opening dental practices and with the (alleged) shortage of dentists to provide the growing care that is needed. Lawmakers argue that creating these new occupations will make it possible to treat more patients in areas currently being under-served.

Alaska already has the Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapist program, where high-school graduates receive 2 years of training in dentistry and are then licensed to practice most aspects of general dentistry, including extracting teeth.

But who will monitor the quality of their care if a dentist isn’t there to oversee the work?

A dentist has completed a minimum of two years of college and four years of dental school.  Specialists need a minimum of two more years of additional schooling. Dentists are trained to look for anything unusual like oral manifestations of diseases, oral cancer, infections — beyond just looking for the early signs of gum disease, dental decay and eroded fillings.

The health care reform law . . .

Adding to the need for more dentists is the recent passing of the health care reform law guaranteeing medical and dental coverage for nearly all children. This means an estimated 5.3 million more children will be obtaining dental coverage by the year 2014. States worry they will be hard pressed to ensure that the supply of dental providers will meet this growing demand for dental care.

Do you see this as an alarming trend?

For more on this subject see First Dental Therapists are Ready to be Put to the Test

About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.


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