Stop Dental Therapists From Harming Arizona Patients

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Arizona's dental therapy bill promises to establish a two-tier oral healthcare system. Those who can afford a dentist will receive the highest level of care, and those who can not will be treated by a dental therapist.

Lawmakers promise that dental therapists will increase access to care, even though lack of access in rural communities has more to do with a lack of infrastructure than a lack of dentists. In fact, there are more than enough dentists in Arizona to meet the needs of the population. The problem in Arizona is one of poor distribution of dentists and too few suitable dental facilities in remote areas.

Dentists perform a variety of irreversible surgical procedures on patients under various levels of anesthesia. It takes eight years of training, examinations, and board licensure to ensure that dentists are competent to perform those procedures and to safely administer anesthesia.

Arizona lawmakers are gambling with the health of their constituents. They are betting that high school graduates can learn how to safely treat patients with irreversible procedures after receiving significantly less training.

Dentists nationwide have overwhelmingly rejected dental therapists as a danger to public oral health. Dentists have an ethical and a moral obligation to act in the best interests of their patients. Arizona lawmakers are working in opposition to this obligation, as the dental therapy bill threatens to undermine the health and well-being of Arizona's citizens.

Rather than listening to the expert testimony of dentists in the state, Arizona's lawmakers have asserted that they know better by working to pass this bill even after it failed to pass a House Health Committee hearing. Remind Arizona legislators whom they work for and vote down this disastrous legislation that will fail to live up to its promises while putting Arizona's oral health at risk.