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Gary Vollan, Basin, Wyo., letter: ADA spends millions to save dentists' monopoly

BASIN, Wyo. -- Regarding the story, "Minnesota preps first dental therapists" (Page B1, Dec. 26):

The call by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, for a financial discloser from the American Dental Association and other medical groups is just a start of holding the association accountable for the money it spends as a nonprofit suppressing and pushing out competition.

The ADA lobbies federal and state lawmakers to disregard legislation that would regulate the denturist profession in many states. The association also lobbied to exclude language from North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan's bill, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, that would have expanded the dental health aide therapist programs nationally throughout the Indian Health Service.

Currently, Alaska is the only state in which the Indian Health Service's dental therapist program can operate. The ADA opposed that program in Alaska, too, but lost.

The association also lobbies to prevent dental hygienists from having independent practices.

The association's total lobbying expenditures for 2009 as of October was $2.1 million, as reported by

The association's self-serving agenda is hurting consumers by suppressing qualified competitors who could provide oral health services to populations that currently are terribly underserved.

The ADA works against its own vision and mission statement by suppressing competition that has been trained in providing oral health care services to those who can't pay dentists' high prices. This practice leaves many Americans without needed dental care.

The ADA has the power and money to change the current dental care delivery system for the better, but only if the public speaks out against the association's deceptive and public relations campaign.

Gary Vollan

Vollan, a denturist, is state coordinator for the Wyoming State Denturist Association. Denturists are technicians who provide dentures directly to the public.