The National Partnership for Dental Therapy (NPDT), which aims to improve access to dental care, has grown to more than a hundred partners including the National Congress of American Indians, MomsRising, the National Rural Health Association, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, according to the organization.
Members include large national organizations and small community groups, from progressive advocates to free-market think tanks, the NPDT said. These bodies are united in their belief that dental therapy is an equity-focused, cost-effective means of addressing a lack of dental care for far too many people across the United States, the NPDT continued.
More than 50 million Americans live in areas with a shortage of dental providers, the NPDT said, and that situation has worsened in the past year as COVID-19 has shuttered dental practices or kept people away from practices that remained open.
Dental therapists work with dental hygienists and dental assistants under the supervision of a dentist to provide routine dental care, the NPDT said. They are proven to expand access to dental care while creating jobs with minimal cost to the government, the organization continued.
Also, dental therapists are working or authorized in 12 states, but access to these providers remains blocked for many communities due to restrictive laws backed by special interest groups, the NPDT said, despite bipartisan support from the Biden and Trump administrations.
With the pandemic making healthcare harder than ever to access, the NPDT said, the time is now to examine ways to lower costs, increase access to care, and reduce the racial disparities in our healthcare system.
“The National Indian Health Board applauds Alaska Tribal leaders for having the vision to create the US’s first dental therapy program that built an accessible pathway for community members to become oral health providers,” said Stacy A. Bohlen, CEO of the National Indian Health Board.
“This innovative, community-focused workforce has now spread across the country and is empowering long neglected communities to take back control of their oral health. NIHB is pleased to continue our support for more Tribal dental therapy programs and providers to help keep our people healthy and smiling,” Bohlen said.
“We’re pleased to join the more than one-hundred organizations supporting dental therapy, which data and evidence continue to demonstrate is a cost-effective way to increase access to dental care,” said Kristen Mizzi Angelone, senior manager of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Dental Campaign.
“Twelve states have passed laws with bipartisan support, training programs are growing, and, despite the once in a lifetime challenges of a global pandemic, the field of dental therapy made important strides last year to lay the foundation for progress for many years to come,” Mizzi Angelone said.
“We could not be more proud to be part of a movement to bring a free-market solution to the lack of access to dental care in our nation,” said Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy at the James Madison Institute.
“Not only are dental therapists vital to the dental care teams in states where they operate, but it is a profession that creates jobs and grows small businesses. Every state should authorize dental therapists immediately to increase access to affordable healthcare, increase jobs, and grow small businesses,” Nuzzo said.