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Dental aides could help regions with dentist shortages
Updated: 10/6/2011 7:00:00 PM

Researchers from RTI International and the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina found that dental health aide therapists who can perform simple procedures may be a potential solution for communities experiencing a lack of dentists. Recently there has been a great deal of discussion regarding how to provide quality dental care to low-income patients or those in rural areas where access to dentists may be limited. No one should have to experience tooth decay or other oral health issues due to an ability to see a dental care professional. 

Researchers from RTI International and the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina found that dental health aide therapists who can perform simple procedures may be a potential solution for communities experiencing a lack of dentists.

"Relying on a traditional itinerant care approach leaves people with limited access to emergency and preventive treatment, allows disease and associated pain to worsen and fosters expectations that dental care should be sought only when a person is in pain," said study author Scott Wetterhall, M.D.

The scientists stressed that these aides require training and supervision from professional dentists for complex procedures, but may effectively perform simple cleanings, dental restorations and extractions.

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