Dental therapists could bridge dental services gap

A new report concludes that dental therapists could help provide care to millions of Americans who don't have adequate access to dental care right now.

Dental therapists, who can perform basic dental and preventive services, are similar to nurse practitioners or physician assistants. The report, which comes from the W.K. Kellogg foundation, argues that if supervised by a dentist, dental therapists could help many more families meet their needs.

The problem is huge, as 48 million U.S. children and adults live in areas that don't have enough dentists. Millions more can't afford to pay for such care, which can be costly even for those with insurance.

The practice of using dental therapists is somewhat new to the U.S., but established in countries like England, Australia and New Zealand, the report notes.

To get more information on dental therapist options:
- read this UPI piece

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