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Organized dentistry expresses concerns regarding the U.S.-Mexico Tourism Improvement Act

April 23, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — Until Mexican programs achieve accreditation through the Commission on Dental Accreditation, U.S. dental schools should not build relationships with Mexican schools.

This was the overarching message of an April 23 letter from the Organized Dentistry Coalition to Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, lead sponsor of HR 951, the United States-Mexico Tourism Improvement Act. If passed, the legislation would expand tourism between the United States and Mexico, including for dental care.

In the letter, the organizations said they believe patients’ dental care when visiting dentists trained in non-accredited Mexican dental schools cannot be guaranteed and urged lawmakers to include this in the legislation. Currently, no Mexican dental schools are accredited through CODA.

“The Commission on Dental Accreditation serves the oral health needs of the public through the development and administration of standards that foster continuous quality improvement of dental and dental-related educational programs,” the organizations wrote. “Accreditation ensures academic quality and public accountability.

“We believe that, until Mexican programs have received CODA accreditation, U.S. dental institutions should not build relationships with Mexican institutions for the purpose of having patients visit Mexican facilities for treatment.”

The organizations also recommended that Congress consider other factors critical to patient safety such as licensure of dentists and facilities following accepted asepsis, infection control and biohazard control protocols when assessing the feasibility of building partnerships among dental institutions between the United States and Mexico.

“These safeguards are critical components to dental care that patients in the United States take for granted. Lack of attention to these details may lead to a false sense of security for patients seeking care outside of the United States,” the letter concluded.

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