Tag Archives: DHAT

Conference explores use of dental therapists to expand access to care

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.

In November’s Health Affairs, Conan Murat explored his experiences as a dental health aide therapist (DHAT), providing care to his fellow native Alaskans in remote villages on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Recently, Murat was in Washington, D.C., to join a crowd of oral health advocates who say technically trained dental providers could help answer the need for care in many other poor and isolated communities across the United States.

“This whole movement thing seems like it’s really starting to get going,” noted Murat, looking out over the crowd at the Dental Therapist Conference Convening, hosted by Community Catalyst, a national nonprofit promoting grassroots efforts to change the health care system.

Organized dental groups have fought hard against the therapist model in recent years, saying no one but dentists should be allowed to drill cavities and extract teeth. Continue reading