States Expand the Use of Dental Therapy

Access to care increases when dentists are authorized to hire midlevel providers

States Expand the Use of Dental Therapy

Note: This page was updated Jan. 23, 2019, to reflect that Michigan enacted a dental therapy law in late 2018. The map has been updated repeatedly since 2016 to show which states have acted or are considering actions to allow the use of dental therapists.

Dental therapists—midlevel providers similar to 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 to serve vulnerable populations, a handful have acted to allow dentists to hire these practitioners, and many others are exploring the option. Dental therapists also practice in several tribal communities, where access to care can be especially limited.