Tip Sheets

Dental Therapists -- The Newest Members of the Oral Health Care Team (Michael Helgeson presentation)

Panel: Moves to address access to dental care (Health Journalism 2012)

Speaker: Michael Helgeson, D.D.S., chief executive officer, Apple Tree Dental

PDF of presentation

Panel description: Lack of dental care can be devastating and even deadly, especially to people on Medicaid or without insurance who often end up in emergency rooms with intense pain. Some states are experimenting with solutions, which mainstream dental organizations frequently oppose. Minnesota was the first state, in 2009, to approve dental therapists, the dental equivalent of a nurse practitioner. The Sarrell Dental Centers in Alabama battled the Alabama Dental Association and Alabama Board of Dental Examiners while expanding services to children on Medicaid. Such efforts are catching on in other states, possibly including yours.