Dentist in the Lions Den

A few weeks ago, the news feed on my phone showed the title, “Dentist Kills Protected Lion.” Of course, I was saddened by the loss of Cecil the Lion but found it very interesting that they used the word, “dentist.” Why not put man, or person instead? On the American Dental Association's website the first sentence stated is, “The dental profession holds a special position of trust within society.”  We as dental professionals have an obligation to uphold this code of conduct in all aspects of our lives. Obviously a person who holds a position of trust in society makes for a more appealing headline.  Many have spring-boarded off this topic to create a platform for bigger issues at hand, such as border control and abortion.

I  too am jumping on the bandwagon and am saying that there is an oral health care crisis in America, folks. Yes, dentists make lots of money; that is the healthcare system that we live in. High quality care at a cost. Dentists do put in the time and money to provide a specific skill set and they should be awarded proper compensation for such. However, while dentists are making money on those who can afford it, there are many out there who don’t have access to care.  Have you seen America’s Dental Care Crisis video on PBS? If not, check it out. 

Another recent article called "Why Are Dentists So Darn Rich” brought up some interesting points about the dental system in America. It mentions the different models that are up and coming in the dental field. Letting the public know about them creates more acceptance for them. This is the way of the future. It is happening.

Daily, I see comments on Dental Hygiene Facebook groups from hygienists stating that the market is flooded, and so many new schools are opening. Jobs seem scare, but what about all of those projections that this is a fast growing field and one of the top careers to choose from?

Systems are changing in every level of health care to increase access to care making it more affordable and available to all. One shift occurring in the dental hygiene field is expansion of hygienists supervision, roles and duties. I always see a place for us in the traditional dental office but, in addition, I see our future in independent practices, such as in Colorado. I also see us being hired by hospitals and nursing homes to provide preventive care. This means JOBS. The process of change is long but we have to start somewhere. Get involved in your local chapters to start, and become a member of the American Dental Hygiene Association.  Help get laws passed that will help bridge the gap in this crisis. As baby boomers are aging, our communities will start to see the need and changes WILL be made.

Cecil's death was a great loss but as a result, it has opened the eyes of many to other issues surrounding us, one of those being letting Americans know that people deserve to have better access to quality dental care. Where do you see the future of dental hygiene employment?