A growing number of states and tribal communities are allowing dentists to employ dental therapists to help meet the need for routine dental care.

Dental therapists are midlevel providers, similar to physician assistants in medicine, whom dentists hire to extend quality care to more patients, expand their practices, and deliver treatment to underserved populations. They can also bring care directly to community settings such as schools or nursing homes under the supervision of a dentist. Dental therapists provide preventive and routine restorative care, such as filling cavities, placing temporary crowns, and extracting severely diseased or loose teeth.

Midlevel providers can help fill gaps in dental coverage
Midlevel providers can help fill gaps in dental coverage
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Vermont Passes Legislation Authorizing Dental Therapists

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On Monday, June 20, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) signed Senate Bill 20 into law, authorizing the practice of dental therapy. After a five-year campaign by the Vermont Oral Health Care for All Coalition, Vermont became the third state, joining Maine and Minnesota, to allow dentists to hire these midlevel providers. Dental therapists also work with dentists caring for Native American tribes in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington.

Dental providers
Dental providers
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5 Dental Therapy FAQs

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Another type of provider is helping dentists in private practice and public health settings address the gaps in access to dental health care that many Americans face.

Dental Telehealth
Dental Telehealth
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8 Reasons Educational Standards for Dental Therapy Are Important

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At its Aug. 7 meeting, the Commission on Dental Accreditation—the accrediting body for academic dental programs—finalized educational standards for dental therapy training. Dental therapists are midlevel providers—similar to physician assistants—who provide preventive and routine restorative care, such as filling cavities.

Expanding the Dental Team
Expanding the Dental Team
Report

Expanding the Dental Team: Increasing Access to Care in Public Settings

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Report

Building on an earlier report that examined how two private practices used dental therapists, Expanding the Dental Team: Increasing Access to Care in Public Settings looks at three examples of midlevel dental providers working to expand care to underserved populations in nonprofit, public settings.

Assael
Assael
Article

Working With Midlevel Dental Providers

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Midlevel dental providers perform preventive care and routine restorative duties, such as filling cavities, in a variety of settings. Eight dentists share their perspectives on these practitioners, who are similar to physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners in the medical field.

Improvements in dental health care in the United States have not been equally shared by all groups.
Improvements in dental health care in the United States have not been equally shared by all groups.
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Who Lacks Access?

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Who Lacks Access?

Dental health in the United States has improved substantially in the past few decades, but not everyone has benefited equally.