The ODA expresses opposition to dental therapists, support for House Bill 184

Today, the Ohio Dental Association reiterated its opposition to Senate Bill 98, which would authorize dental therapists in Ohio, and expressed its support for House Bill 184 as a superior – and vastly more effective – approach to addressing access to dental care.

ODA president Dr. Kevin Laing, a general dentist from Van Wert, pointed out that the only state that currently allows dental therapists to practice is Minnesota, and the experience there has been “disastrous.” Laing pointed out that the federal government recently warned the state of Minnesota that Minnesota children do not currently have sufficient access to dental services.

“After authorizing dental therapists more than eight years ago, access to dental care has gotten worse in Minnesota and dental professional shortage areas have grown,” Laing said. “The Minnesota experiment has failed, and this is not what we want for Ohio.”

Laing also noted that the minority community is concerned about the potential impact of Senate Bill 98. Recently, the Columbus Association of Dentists, the local affiliate of National Dental Association, which is the leading professional association for minority dentists, sent a letter to Ohio legislators expressing concerns about dental therapists.

The letter states that the Columbus Association of Dentists “opposes authorizing dental therapists to practice in the state of Ohio” because “only three years post high school education [as proposed in Senate Bill 98] is inadequate preparation to perform irreversible procedures in dentistry.” Moreover, the Columbus Association of Dentists, most of whose members are Medicaid providers, said the “thought of creating a double standard of care and allowing less educated oral health care practitioners to focus on treating the most vulnerable in the African American community is frightening.”

Laing touted House Bill 184 as presenting a superior approach to addressing access to dental care, pointing out that the legislation is a multi-pronged approach to ensure all Ohioans have access to the full range of services that only a dentist is trained to provide.

House Bill 184 will:

  • Update Ohio’s dental laws to allow for the use of tele-dentistry to extend care into underserved areas of Ohio;
  • Double the capacity of the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program, which has already incentivized dozens of dentists to provide care to low-income Ohioans on a full-time basis in designated professional shortage areas;
  • Authorize the creation of primary care dental student scholarships within the Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program providing scholarships for dental students who agree to practice in designated underserved areas upon graduation;
  • Enhance the ability of existing dental team members, including dental hygienists, expanded function dental assistants, and certified dental assistants, to provide preventive dental services in schools and other public health settings; and
  • Promote licensure portability by having Ohio accept the results of all of the regional clinical dental licensure exams, making Ohio an even more attractive place to set up a dental practice by opening Ohio’s borders to qualified dentists from across the country.

“Unfortunately this non-solution of proposed additional provider levels continues to be a distraction from real solutions to Ohio’s dental access challenges,” said ODA Executive Director David Owsiany. “It’s the policy equivalent of snake oil – and has been rejected by other states when in fact, it did nothing to improve dental access. This bill is dangerous and puts the oral health of Ohioans at risk by putting unqualified individuals in the position to permanently impact patients. We urge the General Assembly to focus attention on real solutions – such as HB 184.”


About the Ohio Dental Association

The Ohio Dental Association represents more than 5,000 member dentists, nearly 75 percent of the state’s licensed dentists. ODA member dentists provide more than $40 million in donated care and services annually, and they are bound by the highest ethical standards and have access to superior ongoing education, training and resources.

Media Contacts:
David Owsiany, JD
Ohio Dental Association Executive Director
(614) 486-2700