Note: This page was updated Feb. 19, 2020, to reflect which states recently enacted or are considering dental therapy laws. The map has been updated repeatedly since 2016 to show which states have acted or are considering steps to authorize dental therapists to practice. For simplicity, the latest version also reduces the number of categories included.
Dental therapists—midlevel providers whose work is similar to that of physician assistants in medicine—deliver preventive and routine restorative care, such as filling cavities, placing temporary crowns, and extracting badly diseased or loose teeth. As states grapple with provider shortages, especially in underserved areas, several have passed laws that allow dental therapists to be part of the care delivery system, and others are exploring the option. Dental therapists are also authorized to practice in several tribal communities, where access to care can be especially limited.
Note: Oregon, Minnesota, and Washington have authorized dental therapists to practice only in tribal communities.