Minnesota is a national leader, meeting six of eight policy benchmarks aimed at addressing children's dental health needs, improving by two letter grades since the 2010 report. The state earned an ‘A' by surpassing the threshold for providing dental services to Medicaid-enrolled children and by submitting basic screening data on oral health to the national database for the first time.
In 2009, the Pew Children's Dental Campaign and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation assisted state public health advocates in securing legislation authorizing two new types of dental providers. Training programs for dental therapists and advanced dental therapists are now underway, and the first class of advanced dental therapists will graduate in mid-2011.1
The new dental practitioners authorized by state law can help close the access gap created by Minnesota's dentist shortage; recent federal data show the state has 96 Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas.2
1. “1st class of midlevel providers nears graduation,” Dr. Bicuspid (January 26, 2011) http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=306755 (accessed February 15, 2011).
2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Table 4, “Health Professional Shortage Areas by State, Detail for Dental Care Regardless of Metropolitan/Non-Metropolitan Status as of December 6, 2010,” accessed December 7, 2010, http://datawarehouse.hrsa.gov/quickaccessreports.aspx.