Dental Therapists: A Proposal to Expand Access to Dental Care in Michigan
Mackinac Center's Study of Dental Therapy in Michigan
In a speech on Sept. 14, 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder outlined his ideas for how to help state residents become healthier. He praised some current health care policies and practices, but also warned that the system is “costly and confusing,” and that there were too few health care providers. Gov. Snyder also emphasized the connection between a person’s oral health and his or her overall healthiness, and claimed that poor oral health was resulting in “inappropriate use of emergency rooms.”
Gov. Snyder is right that oral health is an important part of a person’s health, a fact that is not well enough known and too often forgotten. Michigan has too few health professionals, in some areas of the state, particularly dental providers. And evidence suggests that Michiganders may be paying more than they would had if more people had access to preventive dental services. Neglecting preventive care means that too often people wait until a minor dental issue escalates into a major one, perhaps even requiring a trip to the emergency room.