Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Dental therapy to improve access
State can lead new model
As someone who has worked in the nonprofit community providing grants for dental care for very low-income women throughout Washington, I concur with Danny Warner’s statement in “Dental therapists aren’t the right fit” that “no single solution will improve oral health for the most vulnerable” [Opinion, Nov. 29].
However, unlike Warner, I believe that dental therapists could be an important part of a plan for improved oral health care for Washington’s citizens. I have witnessed time after time that the failure to provide oral health care can create significant physical disease, failure to maintain adequate nutrition, loss of teeth, inability to find work or depression.
The proposed addition of dental therapists is in line with Warner’s praise for this state in being on the leading edge of expanding the dental workforce. This model has been used successfully in more than 100 countries, Alaska and is now being introduced in Minnesota.
Warner suggests other approaches to providing oral health care, all of which could be utilized in a model that includes dental therapists. The research is there to show that this model works. Why be afraid to include dental therapists in a dedicated dental community that wants to see all Washingtonians free of dental decay and pain?
—Deborah Cushing, Seattle