Momentum grows to establish dental therapists; what about your state?

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Image by  Herry Lawford via flickr.

Image by Herry Lawford via flickr.

Mid-level dental providers are at work in countries from the United Kingdom to Malaysia. Here in the United States, advocates are pushing hard to get states to enact laws that would open the way for dental therapists to get care to people who might otherwise go without it.

Organized dental groups, including the American Dental Association have fought the model, contending that only dentists have the training to perform what are termed irreversible procedures such as drilling and extracting teeth.

Even so, dental therapists, who provide care under the general supervision of dentists, are now treating patients in tribal areas of Alaska as well as in poor communities in the state of Minnesota. Maine has also passed legislation and is moving forward with therapists.

Meanwhile, other states are considering the model. Is yours one of them?

There is a lot going on in this area to write about, so this seems like a good time to offer a tip sheet that features some of the latest coverage and resources that might help you explore this topic.

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