Dental Therapist Bill in Michigan Senate

by Ashley Tuomi,
Chief Executive Officer

There was a new bill introduced (Senate Bill 1013) June 7th that will provide licensure for dental therapists to practice in Michigan. One of the great things about this bill is that it will enable dentists to delegate routine restorative procedures to dental therapists working under their supervision, including assessments, simple cavity preparation, restoration and simple extractions. If you are unsure of what a dental therapist is, you can think of it as similar to a physician’s assistant in the medical realm. Basically a dental therapist is a mid-level dental provider.

Who else is using Dental Therapists?

Some of you may have heard of Dental Therapists before. That is because this model was successfully implemented in Alaska starting in 2004. Recently, tribes in Oregon and Washington have also began adding Dental Therapists to their clinics. The states of Minnesota and Maine have already passed legislations to license dental therapists as well. There are also many other states considering this right now as well.

So why is important?

  • It can be difficult to find a dentist and especially dentists that take Medicaid in many counties. In fact, 4 million American Indians and Alaska Natives live in counties with dental provider shortage areas, including nearly half of all American Indian children.
  • In 2014, almost 60% of children on Medicaid did not see a dentist (Michigan is in the bottom 10 states).
  • Lack of access to oral health leads to tooth-loss, pain, and many other health complications.

If you want to read more about this bill You can read the full text of the bill here.

How to support:

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. When I did my doctoral research on dental anxiety, I became more aware of the issues related to oral health. Through my research I found that lack of access to oral health is a major contributor to dental anxiety and plays a huge role in the vicious cycle of pain and fear.

Question:

Have you had problems finding a dentist that takes your insurance?

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