Coalition of Prominent Dentists Launches Unified Platform to Address Health Equity

The National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity will advance oral health equity through their support of evidence-based practices in the U.S. like dental therapy

Boston, MA – Today, a distinguished group of dentists with extensive backgrounds in private practice, public health, dental education, administration and research, announced the formation of The National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity to advance comprehensive health equity with a specific focus on assuring oral health equity and increasing access to care.

The coalition’s Health Equity Position Statement and a list of members can be found on the National Partnership’s website.

In alignment with their predominant goal and mission, as well as in response to research and evidence, the coalition supports the utilization of dental therapists as a means of increasing access to dental care, expanding dental education opportunities and diversifying the dental profession.

Nearly a third of the people in the U.S. are unable to access the dental care they need, including a significant portion of the nation’s children and seniors. Oral health has a strong connection to overall health, as dental problems can lead to serious health risks. Untreated tooth decay and gum disease affects people’s ability to eat, go to school or work and can lead to life-threatening infections.

The mission of the coalition is to unite dentists in support and promotion of evidence-based, high quality and cost-effective oral health services including disease prevention and treatment and care delivery models. The coalition will promote evidence-based prevention, treatment and delivery models and act as a convener of supportive dentists.

The coalition is comprised of dentists from across the country and includes some of the most respected individuals in their respective fields.

Interim Chair, Dr. Lawrence Hill DDS MPH, said the following of the coalition, “As health care providers, we have an obligation to advocate for those changes and reforms in the system that will bring about equitable health care for all. The creation of this coalition is an exciting opportunity to use our collective professional voice to champion proven methods of increasing access to quality and affordable dental care, as well as to assure that the public receives the most accurate information available.”

Dental therapists are proven to provide safe, quality care where they are practicing. More recently, strong evidence demonstrates that dental therapists who act as part of the dental care team and are able to perform routine and preventive services can fill critical gaps in communities by making dental care more accessible for underserved populations.

Dental therapists work under the supervision of a dentist. The care they provide complements the supervising dentist and members of his/her staff by extending their reach, providing oral health education and common dental procedures such as filling cavities and extracting already loose teeth. Through the off-site supervision of a dentist, dental therapists can also deliver care in settings that better meet the needs of underserved communities.

Caswell Evans DDS MPH, a founding member of the coalition and Vice Chair, said, “The authorization of dental therapists is a proven way to make a meaningful difference to the millions of Americans currently without access to dental disease prevention or treatment services.

“The movement is spreading rapidly across the country and the growing body of evidence clearly demonstrates that it’s working. Because of dental therapists, public, private and nonprofit practices are better equipped to provide appropriate care to those in need.”

The National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity joins Community Catalyst and the National Indian Health Board Tribal Oral Health Initiative as a Co-Sponsor of the National Partnership for Dental Therapy, a partnership dedicated to elevating the visibility and broad, multi-sectorial support for dental therapy.

Dental therapists have been practicing in the United States for 15 years. Dental therapy is authorized in some or all settings in 12 states with statewide legislation being considered in more than a dozen states. In 2015, the Commission on Dental Accreditation officially recognized dental therapy as a profession and adopted national education standards for dental therapists.

For more information about the coalition and/or dental therapy, visit the National Partnership for Dental Therapy website at https://www.dentaltherapy.org/.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kathy Melley
kmelley[at]communitycatalyst.org
617-275-2861