Coalition Letter in Support of Dental Hygeine Practitioners - June 7, 2016

Over 30 organizations sent a letter to the legislative leadership in support of the budget provision creating a Dental Hygiene Practioner to expand access to good oral health care. Excerpts:

For many residents in Massachusetts, adequate dental care can be difficult to find. A person’s ability to access care is largely determined by age, race, income, insurance status, and geography. Further compounding this issue is the fact that only 35% of dentists in Massachusetts accept MassHealth. In 2014, the number of dentists who billed over $10,000 to the program was even lower – just 26% of dentists. So if you are a senior living in the Berkshires or a child on MassHealth in Haverhill, the reality is the same: it may be difficult to access needed dental care.

DHPs are dental hygienists who – after completing additional training – are able to deliver basic but critically necessary care to underserved populations in the state. DHPs will work under the general supervision of a dentist, using telehealth technology to share X-rays and patient records with the dentist and consult on complicated cases. This will allow DHPs to bring care directly to people in schools, nursing homes, and other community settings. DHPs will deliver much-needed dental services like filling cavities, placing temporary crowns, and extracting loose teeth.

DHPs, also known as dental therapists, have been providing preventive and basic restorative care in a variety of settings globally for over a century. Evidence proves the quality of care they provide is consistently safe, affordable, and comparable to that of a dentist.2 Please include Senate budget amendment EHS 479 authorizing midlevel dental providers in the final FY 2017 budget in order to improve oral health care access for all.

The letter was signed by the following organizations:

AARP Massachusetts The ARC of Massachusetts
Boston College Immigration Integration Lab Boston Foundation
Commonwealth Care Alliance Community Catalyst
The Forsyth Institute Harvard School of Dental Medicine
Health Care for All Health Imperatives
IMPRINT Project Lynn Economic Opportunity, Inc.
Massachusetts Adult Day Services Association Massachusetts Association for School-Based Health Care
Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health Massachusetts Dental Hygienists Association
Massachusetts Hospital Association Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition Massachusetts Public Health Association
Massachusetts School Nurses Organization Massachusetts Senior Action Council
Massachusetts Senior Care Association Mass Home Care
Mount Ida College National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts
The Pew Charitable Trusts Revere CARES
Stand for Children Massachusetts Tufts University School of Dental Medicine