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Ohio Dental Association opposes dental therapists

by ODA Staff
3/14/2017
Press Releases

The Ohio Dental Association strongly opposes Senate Bill 98, which proposes legalizing dental therapists in Ohio.

“Allowing undertrained individuals to perform irreversible surgical procedures puts Ohio’s most vulnerable patients at risk,” said ODA President Dr. Kevin Laing, a general dentist from Van Wert. “Dental therapists would have just three years of training post high school, which is completely inadequate for performing irreversible surgical procedures such as drilling and removing teeth. Dentists receive at least four years of training after their undergraduate studies in order to earn a doctorate degree in dentistry. Adding a dental therapist would create a tiered level of care, where only those who are able to afford it could receive the high quality care of a dentist. We believe that all Ohioans deserve to receive the same level of comprehensive care that a dentist provides, and Ohio dentists have already been making strides to improve access to care to Ohioans in need.”

Laing noted that the recently released Ohio 2016 State Health Assessment by the Health Policy Institute shows the percent of Ohio children with unmet dental needs has decreased by 30 percent over the last decade, and the percentage of Ohio adults who have seen a dentist in the previous 12 months is better than the national average. Moreover, Ohio’s dentist to population ratio is better than the national average.

“These numbers show that we do not have a shortage of dentists in Ohio,” Laing said. “Instead of adding a new level of dental provider, we need to focus on overcoming barriers to providing preventative care to patients in need.”

ODA Executive Director David Owsiany said that “creating a dental therapist in Ohio is a radical proposal that would undermine the progress we’re making to provide access to care to underserved patients and would be a diversion of resources from programs we know work. We need to focus our efforts and funding on programs that are proven to improve access to care, like the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program, which has incentivized dozens of dentists to provide quality care to underserved patients in professional shortage areas. And we need to better utilize the existing dental team, including dental hygienists and expanded function dental assistants, to the fullest extent of their current training to deliver prevention services.” 

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About the Ohio Dental Association

The Ohio Dental Association represents more than 5,000 member dentists, nearly 75 percent of the state’s licensed dentists. ODA member dentists provide more than $40 million in donated care and services annually, and they are bound by the highest ethical standards and have access to superior ongoing education, training and resources.