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Experts to discuss the role of dental therapists in oral healthcare
Updated: 3/21/2012 7:00:25 PM

Experts to discuss the role of dental therapists in oral healthcare  

The fact that people who are living in certain areas in the U.S. have worse dental health than others has lead the oral healthcare industry to start thinking outside the box about how to deliver care to less fortunate individuals.

For example, while the dental health workforce normally consists of dentists, hygienists and assistants, experts at the 41st Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the American Association for Dental Research will soon be discussing the possibility of adding dental therapists to that list.

A dental therapist is a person who has been trained to replace crowns, pull teeth and take care of fillings, along with other simple dental procedures. This profession has been created to serve the growing number of rural communities that do not have enough dentists to serve their population.

The concept of dental therapists has been a controversial one, with many people in the oral health community questioning whether these individuals have enough training to treat people.
Kaiser Health News reports that Minnesota and Alaska are the only two U.S. states where dental therapists are allowed to practice, though legislation to incorporate them into oral care has been introduced in Kansas, Ohio, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington.

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