A Dental Scrape...

Nov 30, 2011

NHPR's Chris Jensen reports on the Molar Express, a non-profit program engineered to delivery basic dental care to North Country kids. 

Many hygienists argue that their profession be allowed to provide basic services like fillers and cleanings without the supervision of a dentist…similar tugs-of-war are  taking place in many states, including Connecticut, where a recent ruling by the commission that oversees the regulation of dentistry is the target of a lawsuit. Matthew Yglesias is Business and Economics Correspondent for Slate. He wrote about the scrape-up between dentists and hygienists for Slate’s Moneybox column.  

Producer's note:

This morning, we heard from a spokesperson for the New Hampshire Dental Society. After hearing our promo for this segment, they wanted an opportunity to submit the American Dental Association's response to the Connecticut case and sent us a statement, which we had to edit for time on-air. The full statement is below.


In a nutshell, this is about our health and safety, much more than whitening teeth.

Dentists are Doctors who Specialize in Oral Health. Dentists are responsible for diagnosing oral diseases; creating treatment plans to maintain or restore patients’ oral health; interpreting x-rays and diagnostic tests; ensuring the safe administration of anesthetics; monitoring growth and development of teeth and jaws; performing surgical procedures on teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity; and managing oral trauma and emergency situations.

A Doctor’s Degree in Dentistry Requires a Rigorous and Lengthy Education. The curricula during the first two years of dental and medical schools are essentially the same. During the second two years, dental students’ coursework focuses on clinical practice—diagnosing and treating oral diseases.

It's About More Than Just Teeth. Dentists areas of care include not only their patients’ teeth and gums but also the muscles of the head, neck and jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, and the nervous system of the head and neck. During a comprehensive exam, a dentist does examine the teeth and gums, but they also look for lumps, swellings, discolorations, ulcerations—any abnormality.