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Professional association to continue pushing for scope extension

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association (NZDOHTA) will continue to push for the development of approved adult scope programs in 2019 as it still believes that this extension of scope is vital to improve access for low income adults and older New Zealanders who are not accessing dental care.

There has been lot of criticism of the Community Oral Health Service in the past year but it must be appreciated that the dental therapy (formerly dental nursing) profession rose from New Zealand and has been instrumental in improving oral health for children and adolescents. When compared to other developed countries like the United States; the access to free dental care has only been possible through hardworking clinicians, managers and support staff that are employed by the public sector.

Adult scopes of practice already exist in New Zealand and countries like Australia are miles ahead in terms of utilising the extended skills of dental and oral health therapists. Michigan has been the 8th state in United States to also approve the use of dental therapists to provide care to adults.

"We as a profession are ready to train further and ensure the most vulnerable receive equitable access. There is no shortage of dental and oral health therapy graduates in New Zealand and if we are to retain these graduates in our country then they need to be provided the opportunity to extend their respective scopes. It’s a win-win for the professions and for the country". - Arish Naresh, Chairperson, New Zealand Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association

NZDOHTA appreciates that there are sceptics of these extensions and we believe this mainly stems from unwarranted fear that dentists will lose market share. NZDOHTA has and will continue to make it very clear that the role of dentists and the wider dental team remains as important and vital as before but if we as a profession are to function as a team then we should all be working top of scope for the betterment on oral health and not base our arguments around market share.

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