ADHA, FTC comments indicate mutual support for dental therapy programs

The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shared similar beliefs that the potential of dental therapy education programs deserved quickly adopted, reasonable accreditation standards in documents filed with the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) within the last week.

Dec 3rd, 2014

The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shared similar beliefs that the potential of dental therapy education programs deserved quickly adopted, reasonable accreditation standards in documents filed with the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) within the last week.

Both the ADHA and FTC urged the commission to “expeditiously adopt accreditation standards.”

Kelli Swanson Jaecks, RDH, president of the ADHA, said the association “is focused on improving the public’s access to quality oral health care” and that the ADHA comments to CODA “highlight the focus and commitment our organization has on improving access to care through the process of an accredited education program for dental therapists.”

Andrew Gavil, director of the office of policy planning, wrote in the FTC’s comments to CODA: “The timely adoption of accreditation standards by CODA has the potential to enhance competition by supporting state legislation for the licensure of dental therapists, and also to encourage the development of dental therapy education programs consistent with a nationwide standard, which would facilitate the mobility of dental therapists from state to state to meet consumer demand for dental services.”

CODA is scheduled to meet on Feb. 6, 2015, in Chicago, where it is expected the commission will have further deliberations on the proposed standards for dental therapy education programs. CODA had asked interested organizations to provide comments prior to Dec. 1, 2014.

“We were very pleased to see the FTC weigh in once again on the proposed dental therapy education standards. Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has been steadfast in her continuing effort to promote competition in the oral health care industry for the benefit of the public,” said ADHA Executive Director Ann Battrell. “That competition provides opportunities for the public to receive greater access to needed oral health care, and opens doors for professional advancement to those practicing dental hygiene.”

The FTC has commented to CODA before on the need to revise the standards that were first proposed in 2013, and ADHA has applauded the FTC for its efforts to help ensure better access to care, and allow dental therapists to operate to the full scope of their practice.

The FTC acknowledged progress with legislation in Maine and Minnesota for dental therapy programs, but said proposed legislation in Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington should prompt CODA to move forward with establishing uniform accreditation standards.

Jaecks’ comments to CODA included also included references to the programs in Minnesota and Maine. “Today there are 42 licensed dental therapists in Minnesota and six advanced dental therapists,” she wrote. “The criteria for licensure are being met. These providers have proven themselves. The Early Impact Study further shows that these new members of the dental team have been well received by both the public and professional community. In Minnesota, many of these new providers are dually licensed as both ADTs and licensed dental hygienists. In Maine, the newly created Dental Hygiene Therapist will all be dually licensed as both a Dental Hygiene Therapist and a licensed dental hygienist.”

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