ADHA supports FTC's comments on dental therapist education standards

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) praised the recent Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) comments to the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) on the proposed standards for dental therapy education programs.

ADHA officials met with FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez last week, according to the association.

ADHA Director Ann Battrell, MSDH, said her group's efforts to increase access for oral healthcare in the U.S., along with its efforts to expand the workforce with dental-hygiene-based midlevel oral healthcare providers, laid the groundwork for its ongoing communications with the FTC. Battrell commended Ramirez for her commitment to promote competition in the oral healthcare industry, which she said will benefit consumers.

"Expanding the supply of dental therapists by facilitating the creation of new dental therapy training programs, therefore, is likely to increase the availability of basic dental services, enhance competition, reduce costs, and expand access to dental care, especially for underserved populations," according to the FTC comments.

Minnesota has developed a midlevel oral health provider program, and a number of state legislatures are considering similar programs.

The FTC noted that the effectiveness of proposed dental therapists may be limited by unnecessary statements on supervision, evaluation, and treatment planning. The FTC also recommended that CODA develop standards that do not unnecessarily constrain the discretion of states to determine dental therapy scope of practice and authority.

The FTC raised concern that the draft standards do not fully address the accreditation needs in Minnesota and, as proposed, could hinder competition, the ADHA said.

CODA is scheduled to meet January 30, 2014, at the ADA's offices in Chicago, where it is expected that it will further consider the proposed standards for dental therapy education programs.

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