@patriciaborns Our teeth and gums are every bit as much a part of our bodies as our other parts, but American health insurance doesn't quite see it that way. Neither Medicare, Medicaid, or private health plans include dental and medical benefits together for adults, forcing those who can't afford separate dental insurance to pay out of pocket or go without.
The Dept. of Health and Human Services thinks finances aren't the only reason so many lack dental treatment. By its calculations, we need some 10,000 new dentists to meet the needs of 40 million people living in areas with a shortage of healthcare providers, the Association of Healthcare Journalsts reorts. The soluttion it advocates -- a "mid-level" practitioner known as a dental therapist -- would allow someone with lesser dental training to perform basic procedures, as nurse practitioners are increasingly doing in the medical field.
The idea of dental therapists assuming some of dentistry's traditional functions is causing such a professional stir that you'd think it's never been tried. But since the first practitioners started working in New Zealand circa 1921, 50 other countries use dental therapists, writes AHCJ.
In the end, it does come down to affordability. It costs less to educate and train mid-level professionals; the reason more of our healthcare is being delegated to them. Read more.