States Expand the Use of Dental Therapy

Midlevel providers help increase access to care

States Expand the Use of Dental Therapy

Note: This page was updated Feb. 25, 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. The latest version also reduces the number of categories included for simplicity.

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.

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Alaska, Idaho, and Washington have authorized dental therapists to practice only in tribal communities.

 

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More States Adopt Laws to Boost Oral Health Care Workforces

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More States Adopt Laws to Boost Oral Health Care Workforces

Six states have passed laws in the past 12 months authorizing dental therapists to practice in a role similar to physician assistants in medicine. The addition of Connecticut, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico brings to 12 the number of states that allow dental therapy in some capacity.