Letter: Allow Dental Hygienists to Do More
To the Editor:
Dr. Steve Chapman certainly opened up the issues he faces when treating youngsters in New Hampshire and Vermont regarding dental health (“Time to Improve Access to N.H. Dental Care,” Dec. 27). Thank you! The N.H. Senate is facing a decision regarding the passage of SB 193, which would allow dental hygiensits to have expanded duties. The New Hampshire Dental Society has opposed this legislation. That really seems shortsighted; the dental profession should meet the needs of the working poor by adopting a model of dental practice that would allow dental staffs to have expanded training and certification and expanded duties in order to provide basic dental care at lower cost and at times more suitable for hard-working blue-collar workers and their families.
I have seen, over many years, during the dental screenings provided by Alice Peck Day’s elementary school programs in Lebanon, Enfield, Canaan, Newport and White River Junction, how families struggle to get dental care for their children. Thankfully several dental offices in the Upper Valley do their best to respond to these needs, but still families find it difficult to leave work, losing pay, and to get transportation to a dental office during normal business hours.
SB 193 would give dental offices more options to provide basic dental care to patients, if dentists would only look at the medical model that would provide for expanded duties as a way to better serve the dental population. Clearly the next step, if this bill is passed, is for our legislators to revamp the Medicaid policies so that such an expanded duties staff model could be used by New Hampshire dentists.