The Massachusetts Dental Society firmly believes that underserved residents in Massachusetts deserve comprehensive dental care, regardless of their socioeconomic status. By necessity, this must encompass oral health education, disease prevention services, follow-up care coordination, and treatment provided by appropriately trained and supervised professionals.
Unfortunately, the article “Hygienists push for a bigger role in treatment, but dentists balk” (Page A1, Feb. 15) created the impression that Bay State dentists oppose expanded care for underserved populations. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Massachusetts Dental Society recently filed a comprehensive oral health bill that encompasses education, disease prevention, and coordinated appointments to help every Bay State resident improve their oral health. If enacted, it would create a new class of well-trained dental practitioners to treat underserved populations in areas where there is an identified and designated area of need. According to the federal government, roughly 13 percent of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns have been designated as areas of need for dental providers.
The direct connection between oral health care and overall health is undeniable. The Massachusetts Dental Society urges the Legislature to enact a law that addresses all of the underlying factors that contribute to the dental health care challenges facing Massachusetts.