Dental therapists are soon becoming a thing. How do they differ from your regular dentist?
Well, first, here’s a bit of background as to why dental therapists are even a matter of consideration at this time. Journey back into time to the year of 2009 when 830,000 emergency room visits were reported that could have been prevented if patients had seen a dentist earlier.
Two years later in 2011, more than half of children on Medicaid went without dental care. A seventh-grader in Maryland died in 2007 from a preventable infection in his mouth when it spread to his brain. This raised major concerns regarding the health of the mouth and guaranteeing greater oral health for all Americans.
So, now discussion has sparked concerning “dental therapists” and the role they could play in the oral health landscape of the U.S.
What is a dental therapist?
A dental therapist is a licensed medical professional, but be less qualified than your typical dentist today. Less qualification would allow them to provide basic services, such as inspections, X-rays, teeth cleaning and cavity fillings, but the more complicated procedures would remain reserved for fully qualified dentists. Therapists would be a hybrid between a dentist and a dental hygienist.
Now, why the need for a dental therapist?
You know the role of a dental therapist, so let’s explore why many across the country are considering a dental therapist position.
First, more than 50 countries and a few states currently allow these mid-level therapists to provide service to the public. Currently, there’s a large enough global community backing the service of a dental therapist, so it’s nothing new.
Second, dental therapists provide basic services that everyone need but not everyone currently has access to. Poor and underprivileged individuals don’t have access to great dental care, thus their entire health is compromised because of their poor oral health. Dental therapists could stand in the gap and curb oral health issues in the county, keeping more people healthy and driving medical costs down.
Third, regular dentists would remain as specialists, offering experienced care to all who can afford it and provide specialized procedures such as root canal therapy and tooth crowns.
Hot Topic with Varying Views
So you have the facts and a bit of background on the matter. What do you think? Are dental therapists necessary or is it an unnecessary addition to the dental world?
It’s definitely a conversation worth having as the medical landscape morphs and changes here in the country.
In the mean time, we remain your committed and specialized Birmingham dental office. We’re committed to providing a comfortable, convenient and specialized experience just for you.