Access to dental care for disadvantaged populations is a national problem, but in Wisconsin it’s especially bad. More than 1.2 million Wisconsin residents live in dental care shortage areas. Children, seniors, veterans and the disabled are among the populations most likely to lack access to oral care.
Fortunately, there’s a solution. This video tells the story of one state’s successful effort to provide dental care to underserved populations – without relying on taxpayers. Minnesota passed legislation in 2009 that created the dental therapy profession. Dental therapists are mid-level professionals, similar to nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants. They work under the supervision of a dentist, allowing more patients to be seen at a lower cost.
The Minnesota Department of Health found that dental therapists provided care in almost 100,000 patient visits in 2016. When the dental therapy law was first passed, 80% of Minnesota dentists opposed the idea. Ten years later, approximately 70% of Minnesota dentists support the program and are clamoring to hire them.
A bipartisan group of Wisconsin lawmakers, supported by a coalition of more than 50 Wisconsin-based organizations, is advancing legislation that would allow this successful free-market and proven solution to be adopted in Wisconsin. For more information on dental therapy in Wisconsin, read our work here: /Initiatives/Dental-Therapy.htm
Watch the video here.