This Missouri Office of Dental Health (ODH) asked the Missouri Dental Board (MDB) at it's April 2023 meeting to support a pilot project to address the urgent workforce challenges and provide increased access to care.
The project will examine the use of an Oral Preventive Assistant (OPA) Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA) (herein referred to as OPA) to deliver preventive care, including supragingival scaling on healthy patients. This document is intended to outline the reasons and supportive details for this consideration.
The shortage of dental health care workers, specifically the shortage of RDHs, is significant. The ODH has been examining this issue for more than two years and feels global decisions to increase care for the underserved, especially in rural populations, needs to be addressed immediately. Creating an OPA position would build on the proven approach of allowing dental assistants to, under supervision, assist with restorative, orthodontic and fixed prosthetic and removable prosthetic care. It would be conducted and measured within the statute allowing pilot projects to exist.
The results of the pilot project will be reported to all major stakeholders, including the Missouri Dental Board and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services through the Office of Dental Health.