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ADA issues statement on Pew study

The ADA said Dec. 8 that a new Pew study on midlevel dental providers focuses too heavily on the economics of dental care and loses sight of patient oral health.

“We are extremely disappointed at the Pew Center for the States’ apparent attempt to influence policy by ‘selling’ midlevel providers as a way for dentists to increase profits,” the ADA said. “These are critical issues and they should not be trivialized. ADA opposition to nondentists performing surgical procedures, whether in a dental office or elsewhere, remains unchanged and unequivocal, and our position is based solely on what we believe best serves the public.”

The report released by the Pew Center on the States examines the financial impact of incorporating midlevel dental providers such as dental therapists in private practice settings, and suggests that most practices could serve more patients, improve productivity, and maintain or improve bottom line profit while increasing access to dental care, particularly for Medicaid patients.

The ADA said in its statement posted online that it supports innovations in the dental team meant to break down barriers to oral health care for those in need.

“The Community Dental Health Coordinator pilot project best exemplifies how that can be done, focusing heavily on prevention—the real key to improving oral health—and helping patients who need care to receive it from fully trained dentists.”

The Pew report, “It Takes a Team: How New Dental Providers Can Benefit Patients and Practices” and a Productivity and Profit Calculator tool, released Dec. 6, are available online.