A Helpless Hostage of the Dental System

If you want to have the experience of being powerless and victimized by an elite corps of professionals simply seek dental care. I have watched the prices of dental care soar to obscene limits over the years and have felt helpless and hopeless because I know there is nothing I can do to change the situation.

The dental profession’s expertise is not in question. Practitioners are extremely well trained and they provide a high level of care. The problem is the business model that controls the delivery of dental care.

Most dentists are either private business owners or work for entities that are private businesses. While there are a number of health related regulations that dental practices must follow, when it comes to cost it is the wild west.

Where Are The Dental Therapists?

It was about 10 years ago when a group of Vermont health care activists started working on the creation of a new level of dental practitioner to fill in gaps in the provision of dental care. Bills passed the Vermont Senate in 2015 and the House in 2016 and S.20 was signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin in June 2016.

An April 2016 story in VTDigger provides a description of what the bill does. “The profession would require more education than a dental hygienist but less education than a dentist.
A dental therapist would have a bachelor’s degree and be allowed to perform eight procedures more than a dental hygienist. The person would need to work under a contract with a supervising dentist, who has a doctorate. However, the dentist would not need to practice in the same building as the dental therapist.’

“The Vermont Technical College in Randolph has outlined sample curriculum for a four-year program to train dental therapists should S.20 become law. The person would learn the same three years’ worth of curriculum as a dental hygienist but spend an additional year in training.”