Legislation was recently circulated that would expand the settings in which dental hygienists could work without being under the direct supervision of a dentist. In short, hygienists would be able to do what they do now in more places.
Hygiene Settings Legislation
WDA is always supportive of reducing barriers to care, and we believe this bill helps increase access for those who need it the most. Right now, many residents of facilities like nursing homes do not receive regular dental care. These patients, who are particularly vulnerable to disease and infection, could be seen by a hygienist for regular cleanings and be referred to a dentist for further work as needed.
Additionally, this bill is a small step toward helping children enrolled in Medicaid access preventive dental services. While most children may regularly see a pediatrician, these health care providers are not trained to look for signs of dental disease so a child can go years without having oral problems detected early when they are easier and less expensive to treat. Allowing hygienists into emergency rooms and doctors' offices could lead to earlier detection and prevention of these issues. It could also, hopefully, help reduce the number of people showing up in emergency rooms with dental infections where they only receive pain medication, but no treatment for the dental disease causing their pain, swelling and fever.
Green Bay Keeps Fluoridating its Water
After being on and off the city council agenda for years and following a lengthy debate and public hearing, the Green Bay Common Council voted 10-1 on March 7 to continue fluoridating its water supply that serves 134,500 residents of that city and four neighboring communities.
The WDA, along with local member dentists and dental hygienists, joined with oral health advocates from several other organizations in sharing their expertise through advance distribution of educational materials to council members, letters of support and testimony during the hearing.
Council members came to the meeting prepared and well versed in the public health benefits of community water fluoridation.
We congratulate City of Green Bay officials for choosing to proactively support good oral health for their community by choosing safe, effective and affordable water fluoridation.
After a brief hiatus in 2017, the WDA and WDA Foundation are excited to announce that our Mission of Mercy (MOM) will be held for the first time in Milwaukee in 2018 on June 22 - 23, 2018. Our MOM program provides care to anyone who has trouble getting to a dental office. Adults and children who show up for care and don’t have any medically-compromising conditions that prohibit them from receiving care are seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
WDA Mission of Mercy in 2018
Last year’s event in Eau Claire saw more than 1,000 dental and community volunteers provide 1,064 patients with some $964,000 in charitable care over two days. More than 15,360 children and adults have now received in excess of $9.08 million in donated care at WDA Mission of Mercy events since 2009.
Watch for future announcements about the specific location! Legislators and staff members are always welcome to tour or even volunteer at WDA Mission of Mercy events.
Based on a recent survey, it is estimated that WDA member dentists quietly donate in excess of $9.6 million in charitable care annually through their private practices. This is in addition to non-reimbursed medical assistance care, unpaid patient bills and volunteering with community programs and clinics.
Dentists Do Serve and Make a Difference
More than 27 percent of the dentists responding to the survey reported spending from 26 - 100 hours annually providing charitable care with nearly 13 percent logging 101 or more hours. The number of individuals benefiting from charity care in private dental offices varies.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF WDA CHARITABLE