Concern is rising about the shortage of health care workers in the U.S. As Senator Bernie Sanders told the media, “We don’t have enough doctors. We don’t have enough nurses. We don’t have enough psychologists or counselors for addiction. We don’t have enough pharmacists.”
However, dental health has long been treated as a luxury. For instance, some 76.5 million Americans have no dental insurance. Even those with insurance may not have access to oral health care, as evidenced by 70 million Americans who live in oral health professional deserts, with no nearby dental providers and services. In times of economic downturns, states often cut Medicaid dental health benefits for adults. But dental health is not a luxury: It is a basic health need, associated with positive health outcomes. And American oral health could easily be improved effectively and affordably: more dental therapists.