Access to dental care remains only a dream for many Massachusetts residents. Barriers include a lack of dentists, insurance coverage that dentists are unwilling to accept, and other obstacles, including transportation challenges, difficulty finding after-work appointments, and lack of understanding and education about dental care in general.
The Massachusetts Dental Society proposes more support to get people to dentists ("Dental society eyes different approach to raising access to care," Letters, Oct. 1). This does nothing to address a lack of dental chair time and the cherry-picking of patients who can afford to pay for care or who have insurance with higher reimbursements.
In medical circles, the acceptance of so-called extenders of care, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, has increased access to care for all, with no measurable change in quality. Many of the needs of patients in medical offices can be fulfilled by highly qualified clinicians who are not medical doctors.
The state dental organization should consider endorsing a similar system so that access to important dental care is not limited to the fortunate.