ADHA supports MLPs in 'Frontline' response

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) has issued a response to the PBS "Frontline" program's "Dollars and Dentists" documentary, praising the program for addressing the "broken nature" of the U.S. dental care system.

Issues highlighted in the documentary, including access to care, the high cost of treatment, and the shortage of dentists in many parts of the country, are complex and require a myriad of solution strategies, the ADHA noted. The ADHA believes that part of the solution to this multifaceted access problem, which addresses both cost and access to care, is the utilization of midlevel dental providers (MLPs).

The organization explained that it advocates for a blended, dental hygiene-dental therapy-based model that builds upon the prevention knowledge base of a dental hygienist and the restorative skills of a dental therapist. Licensed graduates from an accredited educational institution can provide care with an expanded dental hygiene scope of practice directly to the public now rather than later, the ADHA noted.

The ADHA also explained that using a dental hygiene-based midlevel provider model would increase the number of oral health practitioners who provide dental services to Medicaid and underserved populations.

The discussion about MLPs must involve the entire oral health community and focus on the needs of the patient and evidence-based options, the organization added.

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