Minimally-Invasive Care and a Representative Oral Health Workforce
When traditional dental procedures — like drilling and filling cavities and pulling teeth — are medically necessary, access to them is a critical part of ensuring oral health equity. However, less invasive services, collectively referred to as minimally-invasive care (MIC), are often an option. Having access to a full range of oral health services can improve peoples’ oral and overall health, their dental care experience, and their ability to choose the care that’s right for them.
A well-trained and culturally responsive oral health workforce must be available to meet patients where they are. For MIC to be effective, people need regular access to providers they trust.
Policies to promote regular access to care
Because MIC is a set of services, and more broadly, an approach to care that focuses on non-surgical treatment of disease, regular access to dental care is necessary for it to be effective. This requires enough providers who are located where, when, and how people can access them.
Currently, nearly 70 million people live in areas without enough dental providers. Addressing this access hurdle will require increasing the number of providers. Approaches to do that should prioritize a mix of providers with the diversity of training and experience to cover the full range of MIC services. A team-based approach to dental care can help diversify the oral health workforce and prioritize the range of services people need and want, including MIC. Medical and dental providers, as well as other health professionals, all have a role to play in MIC.