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Washington State Dental Association

WSDA President Comments on Dental Therapists in The Seattle Times

Earlier this month, WSDA President Dr. Rod Wentworth responded to a Seattle Times story on dental therapists. Here's what he had to say:

Resources should be redirected

The Kellogg Foundation is wrong to spend $20 million nationwide to promote a new practitioner that is not a solution. [“Report: Dental therapists worldwide give safe care,”, April 10.]

As experts on oral health care, dentists understand the real barriers to optimal oral health. We cannot drill and fill our way to a solution. Instead, we must focus on prevention and education because fewer than 30 percent of people follow their dentist’s advice to brush and floss twice a day. Dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable yet 40 percent of all Washingtonians with dental insurance don’t regularly visit a dentist. More practitioners will not change this, but education can.

Dentists work throughout the state in clinics, schools and community centers to educate people about the importance of oral health. Education about oral health and its importance to overall health needs to happen outside of the dental clinic and be reinforced by parents, teachers and the community. Only when we address issues like fear, cultural and language barriers, and lack of knowledge can we begin to address poor oral health.

Olympia has dramatically cut funding for dental care for low-income people. Our limited resources and those of large foundations should be directed toward proven solutions that address the real barriers to care.

— Rod Wentworth, DDS, Seattle

Click here to go to the Seattle Times page

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