Policy Primer on Dental Care and Reform

By Yaël Ossowski

9 September 2018

Summary: 
Giving incentives for dental professionals to enter the profession and practice more in the areas where care is most needed is indeed a worthy goal. How dental therapy achieves this, however, is not clear. As examples globally and in the United States demonstrate, adding a dental therapy program does not deliver the promised results, but instead increases costs for both taxpayers and consumers.

Unfortunately, it is not the free market silver bullet program as it has been advertised. For consumers, it’s important to find the best solution that will benefit the most number of people in the places of concern. What can be done immediately, without creating a whole new category which could take years to develop, is to allow more dentists to take their work on the road and open mobile clinics. That would give more patients access to dentists and hopefully spur new technological innovations that would more increase dental care. Another would be to give dentists who are already licensed more incentives to serve in rural areas, such as debt relief as advanced in states like Florida.

That could go a long way in recruiting more dentists across the country to help fill the shortage gaps that exist in many communities. Above all else, those would be the best and quickest solutions for consumers in the United States.

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