Affordable, accessible dental care is an essential component of overall health. Yet people with low incomes struggle to access dental care—a problem made worse by the acute oral health provider shortage and COVID-19. Even when insured through state-funded insurance like Apple Health (Washington state’s version of Medicaid), Washingtonians find that dentists often reject their insurance due to its low reimbursement rates.
When Washingtonians do not have access to preventative oral healthcare, many struggle through the pain and eventually have no other choice but to turn to expensive emergency room settings to receive dental relief, further straining limited hospital capacity.
Dental therapists are dental care professionals who can provide high-quality, preventative oral health care for a lower cost. They work in dental offices under the supervision of licensed dentists. Their efficacy and critical role in expanding access to dental care is already proven thanks to Senate Bill 5079, which passed in 2017 and allows dental therapists to practice in tribal communities in Washington.
Click here to message your Senators urging their support for SB 5142, a bill to authorize dental therapy as a profession across the state.