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 August 7, 2019, to reflect changes in the status of Nevada and Connecticut, which passed new dental therapy laws. The map has been updated repeatedly since 2016 to show which states have acted or are considering action to authorize dental therapists to practice.

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 in underserved areas, several 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.

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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.