Coalition pushes for more dental therapists

One would think a proposal to create a dental therapist license to improve dental service in rural areas would be greeted with open arms by the industry, but the measure is running into stiff opposition from an interesting source — dentists, according to an article by the Associated Press.

In fact, the bipartisan push, which is aimed at the Wisconsin Legislature, is reportedly running into stiff opposition from dentists. The dental therapists envisioned would be a step below a dentist, much like a physician’s assistant, but such professionals could perform basic procedures such as filling a cavity.

A coalition of more than 50 groups, including consumer advocates, is urging the Legislature to act, and one bill to create the license has 35 co-sponsors and the support of Gov. Tony Evers. A public hearing was scheduled for Wednesday before the State Senate’s health committee.

The dental profession has a different idea in mind. Matt Rossetto, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Dental Association, says the bill would not solve the problem because it doesn’t include requirements for dental therapists to practice in underserved areas or see Medicaid patients. The WDA favors another bill that would create a scholarship program for dental students who would be required to practice in rural areas.