The largest unmet health need in this country—and potentially the most costly—is for dental care; meeting this need would strain existing personnel and facilities beyond capacity. This book reports an experiment in delivering dental care by means that are not traditional but preserve the high standards that have been achieved by American dentistry.
At the Forsyth Dental Center in Boston, Massachusetts, graduate dental hygienists received additional training in the administration of local anesthesia, drilling decayed teeth, and filling them. The program was designed to prepare dental auxiliaries to undertake restorative treatment under the direct supervision of a dentist who assumes ultimate responsibility for planning treatment, assessing the quality of performance, and assuring the patient’s well-being.
The Forsyth experiment yielded information on the competence of auxiliaries trained in this fashion, on patient acceptance, on the efficiency of various patterns of practice, and on the potential economic effects of delivering care in this way. The results of the study are bound to stir controversy, but they cannot be ignored by anyone who cares about a major problem in health care.