Costs and effects of employing dental therapists [poster] Conference Poster uri icon

abstract

  • Background and Aims: There is an urgent need to improve access to dental care among underserved populations, which tend to include racial/ethnic minority groups and those of lower socioeconomic status. Low access remains the main cause of low utilization and high oral health disparities among the underserved. In other developed countries, the use of expanded dental teams that include mid-level providers, such as dental therapists (DT), is quite prevalent. In the United States, only Alaska and Minnesota have the laws for the training and employment of mid-level dental providers. But there has been no comprehensive, evidence-based economic analysis of how these dental teams. This project addresses this critical deficit by developing and implementing a comprehensive analytical framework based on data from HealthPartners' electronic dental records. In Minnesota the first class of dental therapists and advanced dental therapists has joined the workforce. For this proposal, we will use DT to denote both these types of providers. Hypotheses: The project will address the following hypotheses: 1) Employing DTs has a net benefit for dental practices. 2) Employing DTs is cost effective from a societal perspective. Methods: To analyze the effects and costs of increased access to dental care, we are first testing the feasibility of employment of DTs at the clinic's level. After establishing that a clinic can employ DTs, we will analyze the consequences for society using patient-level econometric analysis. Results: Our preliminary findings show that even the most disadvantaged HP dental clinic should be able to benefit from employing DTs.

publication date

  • 2012