Tag Archives: dental therapists

Efforts to expand use of dental therapists making progress

Photo: Morgan Schwartz via Flickr

Connecticut has joined a growing list of states embracing dental providers as a way to expand access to care.

After a long debate, “a bill to allow the practice of dental therapy passed this year,” reported Ellen Andrews in an end-of-session summary of legislative action published by the nonprofit Connecticut Health Policy Project. Continue reading

States bring different approaches to increase dental care for adults

Photo: John Ong via Flickr

The approaches vary from state to state, but the new year is bringing renewed efforts to broaden access to dental services to millions of Americans who have long lacked care.

In many places, the need is particularly acute among poor adults. Across America, roughly 38 million of them rely upon Medicaid for a broad range of health care benefits. But while children are entitled to dental care under Medicaid, adult dental benefits are considered an optional part of the program. Continue reading

Study tracks benefit of dental therapists in tribal communities

Photo: JBLM-PAO via Flickr

Residents of Alaskan tribal communities regularly served by dental therapists are receiving more preventive care and experiencing fewer tooth extractions than people living in communities without these dental workers, a peer-reviewed study has concluded.

Researchers for the study, published online by the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, analyzed 10 years’ worth of Medicaid and electronic health records data for patients served by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, part of a tribal health system that provides care to thousands of Alaska Natives.  Continue reading

Minn. reporter shares insights on covering the dental therapist debate

Stephanie Dickrell

The debate over dental therapists continues to roil state houses across the country.

Many organized dental groups contend the technically trained providers lack the skills to perform irreversible procedures such as drilling teeth. Meanwhile, public health and grassroots supporters of a wider use of dental therapists contend that this is a good way to get cost-effective, badly needed care to poor, underserved and rural communities.

Dental therapists have been providing care in Alaskan tribal areas for more than a decade. In 2009, Minnesota became the first state to adopt the model for use statewide. Continue reading

Another state moves forward on expanded role for dental hygienists

Photo: John Twohig via Flickr

In a three-sentence brief, WCAX-Burlington, Vt., got out the big news:

“Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, signed a law meant to expand dental care in Vermont. It creates the position of dental therapist, who is not a full dentist is able to do more than a hygienist.

“Advocates say the law will help address a shortage of basic dental care, especially in rural areas and for lower income people.”

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