Letter to the editor: League of Women Voters supports dental therapist bill

League of Women Voters supports dental therapist bill

Like the nurse practitioners and physician's assistants who handle much of our routine medical care, dental therapists would be able to do routine dental care including nonsurgical extractions and surface fillings.

While under the general supervision of a dentist, the supervising dentist would not need to be on-site. This would allow for wider geographical and more affordable primary dental care to Vermonters.

The importance of primary dental care cannot be overstated. Oral health is connected to physical and social well-being and the ability to gain and retain a job. Vermont is facing a shortage of dentists. Nearly a third are 60 years old or older, and more than half of them are planning to retire in the next 5-10 years.

Adding licensed dental therapists to the current available dental team of dentist, dental hygienist and dental assistant would provide more timely, cost-effective care to those who do not currently have access. Similar positions have provided for successful expansion of care elsewhere, especially in Alaska and Minnesota.

It has been argued that dental therapists should not be authorized to conduct procedures that general practice dentists would be reluctant to take on, because of their complexity. If Vermont had dental therapists providing primary care to those without access to dentists, such cases could be prevented.

This bill is now being considered by the House Committee on Government Operations. Please ask committee members to support this bill and pass it to the full House for approval this session.

— Catherine Rader, LWV of Vermont East Montpelier


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