State dental association opposed to dental therapists

Bracken Killpack’s recent guest commentary gets facts wrong and invents conspiracy theories (“Policy debates needs sunshine, not corporate sugar,” The Herald, Feb. 20). We would like to tell the truth.

Too many people in Washington — most acutely in communities of color — can’t get dental care. That’s why our organizations have been working on oral health for decades, from restoring dental benefits for adults on Medicaid to expanding community water fluoridation to authorizing dental therapists. Dental therapists are licensed professionals who provide routine care, like fillings and exams, under the supervision of a dentist. These providers have been working in the U.S. for two decades and with Washington’s tribal communities for six years. Evidence shows they provide high-quality treatment and help more people get care.

But Bracken and the Washington State Dental Association (WSDA) aren’t interested in facts. We know because we, along with Bracken and 15 other stakeholders and policymakers, participated in a 2021 taskforce on dental therapy, hearing testimony and research from dentists and providers, academics and patients. Despite Bracken’s resistance, the taskforce overwhelmingly recommended the legislature allow dental therapists to practice statewide.

Dentists in Washington already supervise and work alongside dental therapists and, starting this fall, dentists will begin educating dental therapists at the new dental therapy program at Skagit Valley College. However, Bracken and the WSDA, speaking for the most conservative and change-resistant dentists, continue to stop good policy with their baseless fears. It’s time to confront the truth: Our current dental system is failing low-income Washingtonians and Washingtonians of color. Authorizing dental therapists statewide will help make care accessible.

Marcy Bowers

Statewide Poverty Action Network

Stephan Blanford

Children’s Alliance

Seattle

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, Nov. 28

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

A floating offshore wind turbine platform is part of a six-turbine, 50 megawatt wind farm off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. (Starkraft)
Editorial: Answer for environment, maritime jobs blowing in wind

Floating offshore wind farms could be a boon for maritime employers like Everett’s Dunlap Towing.

Krista and Eric Brown are the owners of The Grape & Grain bottle shop in Everett. (Jon Bauer / The Herald
Editorial: A big way to support small businesses, communities

Small Business Saturday is your invitation to help small businesses, their employees and your town.

Security guard Austin MacMath wears a gun on his belt, Tuesday, April 19, 2022, while working outside Mary Mart, a marijuana store in Tacoma, Wash. A surge in robberies at licensed cannabis shops in Washington state is helping fuel a renewed push for federal banking reforms that would make the cash-dependent stores a less appealing target. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Editorial: Reduce cannabis business as target for crime

With time short, the U.S. Senate can pass an act that would limit the lure of cash from shops.

Comment: To change gun culture, look to cigarettes, seat belts

The changing of attitudes toward both seemed unlikely at first. Bit by bit, however, the ground shifted.

Saunders: In name of health, one state tracked residents’ phones

Massachusetts wanted to track covid but didn’t tell people it was monitoring people’s phones.

Comment: Kids face daunting gap for behavioral health services

The U.S. needs five times as many child psychiatrists and schools need more counselors.

Comment: Future of Native sovereignty and children at stake

A Supreme Court case threatens to continue the harms of boarding schools on tribal culture.

Comment: Capital gains tax will give back to kids, families

The tax, passed in 2021, will help fund child care, preschool and K-12 education programs families need.

Most Read