Op-ed: Dental therapists are not the right fit for Washington state

Nov. 29, 2012
Creating a new class of dental therapists is not the right solution to improve oral care in Washington state, writes Danny Warner.

By Danny Warner

ORAL disease is the most common chronic disease affecting children. The good news is that it is nearly 100 percent preventable, no matter your age. No one is more dedicated than Washington’s dentists, hygienists and other dental staff to seeing all Washingtonians free of dental decay and pain.

Recently, the idea of a new dental provider used in Alaska has been suggested as the magic bullet for improving dental access. [“Dental therapists could help people get care needed in Washington state,” Opinion, Oct. 11.] However, this proposed remedy is not a cure.

As a practicing dentist for more than 35 years, both in Washington and in rural Alaska, I know that no single solution will improve oral health for the most vulnerable. We need a multifaceted approach based on education, prevention, financing and innovative delivery. These solutions should be custom built to reflect the realities of Washington state, not rural Alaska.

Read more on The Seattle Times.

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