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.