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