For many Ohioans, a trip to the dentist is easier said than done. It might seem remarkable that even in the 21st century several regions of our state continue to lack access to dental care, but it’s true, especially for southern Ohio. The closest dentist’s office can be more than an hour away, a trip that working families just can’t afford to take.
But the good news is that in this day and age, we also have the technology to get people who live in these underserved areas access to dental care. It’s called teledentistry, and the Ohio House just passed legislation that allows state of the art technology and innovation through its use. House Bill 184, the Ohio Dental Care Optimization Act of 2017, permits dentists to perform exams and supervise dental hygienists and assistants utilizing telecommunication like live video streaming.
Through teledentistry, a dentist can conduct an exam and diagnose any need for additional care or procedures, without the patient having to travel far to gain access to a medical professional. Further, this proposal creates the Primary Care Dental Student Scholarship, which is designated for dental students who will practice in specified underserved regions upon their graduation. This scholarship is an effort to encourage more dentists to provide care to Ohioans in rural or low-income areas.
Essentially, House Bill 184 reduces barriers for Ohioans to get dental care by embracing the technological advancements we have at our disposal. It also allows dental hygienists and certified assistants to perform certain tasks outside the presence of a dentist and provide educational services in schools.
It’s so important to increase access to dental care throughout the entire state. Without it, some families don’t even have a choice to keep up regular dental checkups, it’s just simply not available to them. This legislation, which was sponsored by Representatives Theresa Gavarone and Anthony DeVitis, will help to bridge this gap in care for Ohioans and make it more efficient for dentists to serve those in need.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.