Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Improving Access to Dental Health Care

Dr. Jon J. Johnston, President of the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA),
made the following statement after Gov. Ed Rendell signed into law Senate Bill 455,
which allows dental hygienists to perform basic oral health services at
public settings such as schools, correctional institutions and nursing

"The Pennsylvania Dental Association commends Governor Rendell and the
General Assembly for taking an important first step in improving access to
dental care for patients in public settings," Johnston said. "We look
forward to working with the Governor and state lawmakers to build upon this
effort and expand access to oral health care for all Pennsylvanians."

Johnston noted that the PDA worked with state Sen. Patricia Vance on SB
455 to improve patient safety in the legislation. Under the new law, dental
hygienists in public settings must refer a patient to a dentist once a year
for a check up to ensure there are no serious oral health problems in need
of diagnosis and treatment.

Johnston added that the PDA is working with state lawmakers to broaden
the services performed by other dental assistants, allowing more patients
to be seen by dentists and improving access for all patients. In addition,
the PDA is supporting legislation that would add fluoride to public water
systems with 500 or more customers.

"Currently in Pennsylvania, only 50 percent of public water systems
have the recommended levels of fluoride to prevent tooth decay and
disease," Johnston said. "Studies show that fluoride reduces between 20 to
40 percent of tooth decay for all who drink the water. It is the easiest
and most affordable way to ensure that as many Pennsylvanians as possible
receive the first level of preventative oral health care."

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