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Background and resources for covering the dental therapist movement

The dental therapist model got its start in the 1920s in New Zealand and is now well-established in many developed countries, including the U.K., Australia and the Netherlands.

In 2009, Minnesota became the first state government to pass legislation authorizing the model. Dental therapists are now working in underserved areas of the state. Maine and Vermont also have laws in place that allow dental therapists, although they are not yet working in those states. Dental therapist programs have been launched by tribal communities in Washington and Oregon. 

Other states are considering giving the model a try.

“States such as Florida, New Mexico, North Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin are now considering legislation,” wrote Jane Koppelman, senior manager for the Pew Charitable Trusts’ dental campaign in this January 2019 column, Efforts to Expand Access to Oral Health Care to Continue in 2019.

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