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Letter: Dental bill is no cure-all

A bill in the Senate to create a new mid-level dental professional in New Hampshire has stirred debate. It has been cast as a cure-all for all oral health problems. But let’s look at the facts.

First, last year all the interested parties came together and agreed on establishing two new types of oral health professionals to help close the access gap, and preparations are now being made to train and deploy them in clinics, nursing homes and dental offices across New Hampshire. Second, the bill has no specific provisions for training or support in place, which means there is no incentive to locate to rural communities. Third, with no training program in place, it could be years before this bill produces a single technician.

Senate Bill 193 comes with lots of questions and few answers; it distracts us from finding solutions. There is no evidence that adding a new provider will directly help lower tooth decay or guarantee more care in rural areas. What it will do is waste resources on an agenda that will take years to set up. Despite what supporters of the bill claim, there could be a cost to the New Hampshire taxpayer, and that means taking funding from other crucial programs that are already underfunded. We don’t think this is a good idea.

We are asking the Senate to defeat SB 193 so that we can get back to work, with all interested parties, to break down the real barriers to achieving optimal oral health.

JAMES J. WILLIAMSON

Concord

(The writer is executive director of the New Hampshire Dental Society.)

The needed action of progressive and innovative dental workforce models includes denturists, dental therapists, dental health aide therapists, and independent practices and boards for dental hygienists for better public health service. Open the flood gates of oral healthcare providers for all Americans across our nation, through more affordable and alternative delivery methods and models. What about something as simple as regulating the denturist profession nationally. Most denturists are educated in oral healthcare, providing more affordable and quality oral prostheses care and referral services. Denturists, free-up dental chairtime for children, emergencies, and restorative procedures, providing full and partial denture services directly to those who are edentulous. Denturists are regulated in six states which include Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Maine. In all but Arizona denturists operate independently. In Wyoming, an unregulated state, I work with four dentists in one office providing most of the removable prosthesis procedures. I’m a graduate of two denturist programs and a licensed Oregon denturist. It works. I continue to advocate for recognition and independence as a regulated, Wyoming licensed denturist. Gary W. Vollan L.D. State Coordinator, Wyoming State Denturist Association, www.wysda.org https://twitter.com/denturist2th

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