Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Open wide

American Dental Association President Ron Tankersley showed grace under fire when a packed room of oral health advocates pressed him on why his organization has opposed the use of dental health therapists to increase access to care.

APHA policy, as well as the majority of people at the oral health session yesterday, supports the Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapist program and other outside-the-box solutions to the continuing access to oral health care crisis in the United States. The American Dental Association initially opposed the creation of the dental therapist program, which takes members of Alaska Native tribes and trains them on providing oral health services in communities where oral health services can be a plane ride away.

Now the House version of the federal health reform bill includes a provision forbidding the Indian Health Service from setting up the dental health therapist program anywhere but Alaska. Huh?

The continued opposition to “unsupervised” dental health work force members, be they dental hygienists or dental health therapists or others with oral health training, “is neither evidence-based nor good for public health,” said Scott Tomar, president of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry and a University of Florida professor (go Gators!).

Tankersley, who did get a round of applause and even a hug after being grilled by session audience members, said the American Dental Association understands “that by having allied personnel do more, everyone would be more effective.”

“The ADA takes a lot of hits because we tend not to be nimble enough,” Tankersley said. “We are cautious, I admit.”

The session, by the way, was centered on an Institute of Medicine Oral Health Workforce Report released in August that calls for innovative solutions to the oral health access problem. As with many issues, “we really are short on data that helps us make good policy decisions,” said Marcia K. Brand, deputy administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, which now is funding an oral health study.

“There is no doubt that we’ve got to collaborate,” Brand said. “It’s going to take everyone to increase access.”

— D.C.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like a really innovative program. It's outrageous -- though not surprising -- that bureaucracy might screw it up!

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that so many things get bogged down in good intentions. Hopefully they'll get the kinks worked out sooner than later.

nyscof said...

Contrary to what the ADA President claims, dental health therpaists have proven to be safe and effective in other first world countires where they have worked for decades.

The ADA's position is clearly one of profits. They don't want any group eating away at their lucrative monopoly or bank accounts.

Gary W. Vollan said...

The American Dental Association’s tower of greed and waste is falling back on them. The ADA have wasted so much time and money pushing professions away from the table, preventing allied dental professions from serving those we have been trained and educated to serve. ADA's policies continue to discriminate against economically disadvantaged Americans by their corporate power of stopping and discouraging competition. The answer to healthcare issues of economics, shortages and quality care is MORE COMPETITION.

The American Dental Association uses money to fight Dental Hygienists from having independent practices, the ADA fights and prevents Denturists from having independent practices and funnels money to state dental associations to prosecute Denturists so they can’t provide affordable denture care to people with disparities. The ADA, waste money fighting Alaska, to prevent Dental Health Aide Therapists from providing dental services to Natives of Alaska living in remote areas.

Healthcare reform can not be about greed. A good number of Americans can’t afford to pay for dental work. Most aren’t on Medicaid and they have no dental insurance. Drop your prices, guarantee your work and be more competitive. Give us the opportunity to serve those we have been trained and educated to serve.

Gary W. Vollan L.D.
State Coordinator, Wyoming State Denturist Association


Denturists: Alternative healthcare providers for oral health screenings and referrals
Gary W. Vollan, LD