This infographic describes the status of dental therapy in the United States (US) and details the specific requirements in state laws and regulations that define dental therapy practice.
Dental therapists (DTs) are primary dental care practitioners that have been deployed in many countries around the world. Dental therapy was first implemented by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in 2005.1
There is increasingly strong evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of DTs, including their ability to promote community-based services and enhance oral health equity.2-4
Following the approval of education standards by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) in 2015, dental therapy gained increasing acceptance in the US with states and tribal nations authorizing dental therapy. Dental therapy is rapidly becoming an established, growing profession in the US, although there is variation in legal authority across states and jurisdictions.
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References: 1. Nash DA, Friedman JW, Mathu-Muju KR, et al. A review of the global literature on dental therapists. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2014;42(1):1-10. 2. Chi DL, Lenaker D, Mancl L, Dunbar M, Babb M. Dental therapists linked to improved dental outcomes for Alaska Native communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. J Public Health Dent. 2018;78(2):175-182. 3. Wetterhall S, Bader JD, Burrus B, Lee JY, Shugars DA. Evaluation of the dental health aide therapist workforce model in Alaska (Final report). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International; October 2010. RTI Project Number 0211727.000.001. 4. Williard M. Dental health aide program improves access to oral health care for rural Alaska Native people. https://innovations.ahrq.gov/profiles/dental-health-aide-program-improves-access-oral-health-care-rural-alaska-native-people. Updated December 18, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2019.
This graphic is for informational purposes only and state level authorization and requirements are subject to change. Contact the applicable dental board or an attorney for specific legal advice.
This graphic was developed by researchers at the Oral Health Workforce Research Center (OHWRC), Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health and colleagues at Healthforce Center at the University of California, San Francisco. This work is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $449,943 with 50% financed with non-governmental sources through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The information presented in this infographic is based on research conducted by the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by, HRSA, HHS, or the US government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.
This infographic is the property of the OHWRC and may not be modified in any way. It may be shared publicly in its current form in its entirety, including the attribution stated above.
Last Updated September 2020.