The Michigan Council for Maternal & Child Health (MCMCH) is an organization of diverse partners representing hospital systems, statewide organizations, local public health advocates and individuals, advocating for public policy that will improve maternal and child health outcomes through prevention programs, access to care and adequate funding/reimbursement for providers.
Senate Bill 1013: Join MCMCH in Supporting Important Step to Improve Oral Health Access in Michigan
Visit midentalaccess.org to learn moreNew legislation could expand access to dental care for Michigan
residents who can’t find a dentist to treat them, leading to tooth loss,
gum disease and pain. Senate Bill 1013 will allow dentists to hire dental therapists, leading to better
oral health care in areas where state data shows routine dental care is limited or nonexistent.
This common-sense, cost-effective legislation, introduced by Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), will enable dentists to delegate routine procedures to dental therapists working under their supervision, and allow dentists to focus their time and skills on more complicated procedures. Dental therapists are similar to physician assistants on medical teams, and are well trained to perform routine dental procedures currently only performed by dentists, such as filling cavities.
Access to dental care is limited or nonexistent for millions of Michigan residents, creating serious oral health care issues that can lead to tooth loss, pain and potential life-long ramifications.
• There is at least one dental shortage area in 77 of Michigan’s 83 counties.
• More than one-third of all Michigan seniors have lost six or more natural teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease. Low-income seniors are more than three times as likely to have lost six or more teeth due to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
• Almost 3 out of 4 new mothers in 2008 did not receive dental care during their most recent pregnancy. Research shows gum disease contributes to preterm birth.
• Nearly 60 percent of children on Medicaid did not see a dentist in 2014—placing Michigan in the bottom ten states in the nation.
• 66 percent of third-graders in the Upper Peninsula had a history of dental decay in their primary and/or permanent teeth, compared to 56 percent statewide.
Minnesota, Maine, Vermont and tribal governments in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon allow dentists to hire these midlevel providers. Fifteen other states are considering similar bills. Michigan now has the opportunity to be a national leader in addressing its oral health needs through this innovative, cost-effective solution.