The Connecticut Academy of General Dentistry (CAGD)
Opposes Dental Therapy amendment being offered on
SB 807 AAC Legislative Commissioner’s Recommendations for Revisions to Public Health Statutes
The CAGD urgently needs your help generating opposition to legislation that will establish dental therapists in Connecticut! Please follow the link below to easily send a letter to your Senator urging them to oppose the measure!
The CAGD opposes the amendment that will be offered in the Senate on SB 807 ”AAC the Legislative Commissioners Revisions to the Public health Statutes” for the following reasons:
- Education Requirements not Sufficient: There is a serious concern that the education requirements for a dental therapist are not sufficient, given the scope of procedures allowed, especially for the diagnosis and treatment planning of surgical and irreversible procedures. The population to be served by these therapists are among the most medically compromised with the greatest need of extensive care.
- Types of Curriculum are very different: Dental hygienist are taught a curriculum of PREVENTION, not a TREATMENT protocol, as dental students are taught. Dental curriculums are medically based, so they can treat the patient for other medical issues in the course of their dental treatment. A dental therapist would have no such training and would not be able to react if a dental patient had an adverse reaction to a procedure or became injured during a drilling, etc..
- Therapist Supervision Requirements not Sufficient: Therapists would be permitted to practice under the “general supervision” of the dentist, meaning the dentist would not be required to be present or even on the premises at the time of examination, diagnosis and treatment planning and implementation of dental procedures. This lack of required supervision by the highly trained dentist is alarming when dealing with a medically compromised patient population and potential complications while delivering care.
- Access is not the Problem, it’s Utilization: The CT Department of Public Health released its scope of practice report on the advanced dental hygiene practitioner to the legislature in 2012 and specifically states that data provided by the CT Department of Social Services suggest that access for the CT Medicaid population is no longer an issue, utilization is the problem. School based health clinics have hygienists who perform preventive care for kids and Community dentists are available to provide follow restorative service, but oftentimes the families don’t show up for follow up care. The key is that these families need dental homes, not a two-tiered system of delivery of care.
- Creation of Therapist Provider Not Proven to Increase Access in Underserved Areas: Minnesota is the only state to enact and implement a statewide dental therapy program. It also required therapists to practice in rural, underserved areas. Since 2011, its Department of Public Health has issued 90 dental therapist licenses and mostof them are practicing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, contrary to the intent of the legislation. Moreover, in April 2017, the federal government issued a warning to the Minnesota Department of Health, stating that access and utilization rates of Medicaid dental benefits among children in Minnesota had fallen so law, the state was in danger of losing federal funds.
- Therapist Provider Creates Two-tiered System for Patient Care: The level of education, training and supervision for dental therapists as directed in this amendment is insufficient given the scope of procedures it authorizes them to perform, creating a two-tier standard of care. Additionally, there is no national dental therapy exam to test for knowledge, nor are there any national competency exams. This is an alarming situation for the most vulnerable patients.