Lawmakers Try to Find Ways to Improve Access to North Dakota Dental Care

North Dakota Dental CareNurse practitioners and doctor’s assistants have aided medical doctors in providing health care to residents of North Dakota for years. And now lawmakers are looking to implement a similar concept with dental care. The idea will be discussed during the meeting of the North Dakota Interim Legislative Health Services Committee on Thursday.

Senator Judy Lee, chairwoman of the committee, stated that the committee will hear several sides of dental care access in North Dakota. The National Dental Association doesn’t like the proposal of creating mid-level provider positions, which require less education and training than professional dentists.

The North Dakota Dental Association is also not in favor of creating dental therapists. This was according to Dr. Murray Greer, the president of the association and a general dentist from Minot. He added the members of the association feel the current system is working well and it doesn’t need to be changed at present.

Rural areas of the state are trying to expand their oral health care services but there is inadequate number of dentists to serve them. Senator Lee said that there are several rural areas in North Dakota that have no dentists.

Dentists argued that the state has more than 2,000 licensed and registered dentists, dental assistants, and hygienists. That number is twice the amount 10 years ago. New dentists have entered the profession in the state and there’s no need to create a new group of provider. Dr. Greer said that the state board of dental examiners approved expanding the duties of dental assistants and hygienists. They can now take part in case management outreach program to do preventive dental care and education among preschoolers and people in nursing homes.

Senator Lee countered that people also opposed when the positions for physician assistants and nurse practitioners were made 20 years ago.

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