Dental Care And Politics: 3 Trends To Be Aware Of

Dentist Articles

In the United States, almost all dental care and insurance has to be paid for by you as an individual, unless you find a company that offers a good dental package. This may lead you to believe that the government plays a very small role in your dental health care. However, regulating licensing boards, approving medications, and exploring mandatory heath insurance, are all areas where politics play a bigger role in your dental care than you may be aware of. Here are three political issues that may affect your access to dental care in the near future. 

Increasing the Number of Dental Providers By Changing Education Requirements 

Politicians in the United States have recognized that affordable dental care needs to be accessible to a greater portion of the population, with a focus on the young, the elderly, those with low-income, and those living in rural areas. To address this issue, part of the Affordable Care Act allowed professionals in the dental field who do not have a dental license, such as hygienists and dental therapists, to complete more involved dental procedures, such as simple fillings and tooth extractions. 

The American Dental Political Action Committee opposes this section of the Affordable Care Act. Despite success with allowing mid-level practitioners to complete more services in Alaska and Minnesota, members of the ADA claim that they are concerned for patient safety. However, you have to wonder what the real motivations are when the last large scale action of the ADPAC was to keep dental care out of medicare in 1965. 

A Global Call For Political Intervention In Dental Treatment 

The World Dental Federation released a global guide for United Nations members to follow. It explains how governments can be involved in dental health care by increasing access to dental care and decreasing access to harmful substances such as tobacco and alcohol. It urges a focus on preventative care and for dental care to be taken seriously as an indicator of other non-communicable diseases. The guide does not call for governments to fully cover access to health care, but to support non-profits and dentists to achieve greater dental care. 

The Many Faces of the Single-Payer System 

Many academics are currently researching the efficiency of various national dental care systems and advocating for a statutory, single payer system in the United States. Large scale dental care plans are set up in a variety of ways. In Japan and Germany, the focus is on tooth retention as opposed to a reduction in cavities. Germany focuses on low-cost care and prevention while the Japanese system has a higher co-payment but covers more in-depth procedures. French-influenced Quebec offers a government subsidized dental plan similar to the one in France, whereas the rest of Canada and the United States followed Britain's example of not offering dental services along with medical coverage. Many post-communist countries still offer full dental coverage to children and a single payer system to adults, but the quality of dental care varies. 

In the United States, children are offered an introductory visit to the dentist as part of the Head Start program, but beyond that there is little government allowance for the dental care of the young or the elderly. However, as the Affordable Care Act continues to work out its problems, advocates of dental care as a basic human right will start to press for more government support and intervention, such as a greater extension of medicaid into the dental field.  

Whatever your political viewpoints may be, it is important that you remain aware of the possible politically driven changes in dentistry that may affect your access to dental care, rights, responsibilities, and options as a patient. For more information ask your local dentist or look at sites like


18 February 2015