Some States Licensing Dental Therapists To Address Oral Health Care Shortages.
Posted on May 9, 2014
USA Today (5/7, McElhaney) reports that several states are attempting to address a shortage of dentists, particularly in rural areas, “by allowing the licensing of dental therapists – a fairly new class of dental care providers, essentially dentistry’s version of physicians’ assistants.”
Where they are legally approved to operate, “dental therapists — who generally get two years of intensive training before going out into the field — can provide services ranging from cleanings to extractions to pediatric stainless steel crowns, says Mary Williard, director of the Alaska Native Tribal Consortium, a program that trains dental therapists.”
For its part, however, and “despite its recognition of oral health disparities, the American Dental Association is firmly against states approving dental therapists.” Currently, dental therapists may practice in Minnesota, Alaska and Maine. Vermont, Kansas and New Mexico are considering legislation to allow dental therapists to practice.