Enhance Oral Health Workforce Capacity
The lack of progress in supplying dental health professional shortage areas with needed professional personnel underscores the need for attention to the distribution of care providers, as well as the overall capacity of the collective workforce to meet the anticipated demand for oral health care as public understanding of its importance increases.
To effect change in oral health workforce capacity, more training and recruitment efforts are needed. The lack of personnel with oral health expertise at all levels in public health programs remains a serious problem, as does the projected unmet oral health faculty and researcher needs.
The movement of some states towards more flexible laws, including licensing experienced dentists by credentials, is a positive one and today, 42 states currently permit this activity. The goal of moving society toward optimal use of its health professionals is especially important at a time when people have become increasingly mobile, moving from town to city and state to state, and when projected oral health workforce shortages are already evident in many rural locales. State practice act changes that would permit, for example, alternative models of delivery of needed care for underserved populations, such as low-income children or institutionalized persons, would allow a more flexible and efficient workforce. Further, all health care professionals, whether trained at privately or publicly supported medical, dental, or allied health professional schools, need to be enlisted in local efforts to eliminate health disparities in America. These activities could include participating in state-funded programs for reducing disparities, part-time service in community clinics or in health care shortage areas, assisting in community-based surveillance and health assessment activities, participating in school-based disease prevention efforts, and volunteering in health-promotion and disease-prevention efforts such as tobacco cessation programs.
Whether individuals are moved to act as volunteers in a community program, as members of a health voluntary or patient advocacy organization, employees in a private or public health agency, or health professionals at any level of research, education, or practice, the essential first step is to conduct a needs assessment and develop an oral health plan. Because the concept of integrating oral health with general health is intrinsic to the goals of this Call to Action, oral health plans should be developed with the intent of incorporating them into existing general health plans.
Reference: U S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America:, A National Call to Action to Promote Oral Health, A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.
WYSDA is an association of denturists and associates - members and nonmembers - committed to education and advocacy in promoting the denturist profession as midlevel oral healthcare providers through the public health media.
WYSDA is committed to national denturist licensure to ensure accessible removable oral prostheses care, resulting in consumer satisfaction.
"Regulating the denturist profession across the Nation in providing affordable denture care for Americans is the little thing we can do to help with the current healthcare crisis. People are healthier and more productive when they have a denture which functions properly."