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Dental Therapists Aim to Close Gaps in Dental Care

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With millions of adults and children lacking health coverage in the United States, dental therapists can help fill the gaps in dental care. But while this new profession gains popularity nationally, dental organizations argue that therapists are not adequately trained to perform complicated and permanent procedures.

Dental Therapists

The PRO Side

  • Dental therapists can help those in need, including millions of adults and children nationwide who lack dental care.
  • They can help those without insurance who live in areas without enough dentists.
  • They can close gaps in healthcare that often leads to costly emergency room visits for dental problems.
  • The W.K. Kellogg Foundation reported that research shows dental therapist care is both safe and effective.

The CON Side

  • Dental organizations warn that patient safety is at stake.
  • The ADA argues that dental therapists lack training and education needed to perform surgical procedures.
  • ADA president Bill Calnon said dentists are concerned about safety, not competition.

Where I Stand

I feel that dental therapists could solve a major problem in the country by providing healthcare to those who cannot afford it. At the same time, I also can see why dental organizations are concerned about patient safety. Dental therapists should be allowed to help those in need, but only if they work closely with dentists and hygienists, preferably in a mixed setting.

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you know any dental therapists?

Monica Barudin is an Assistant Editor for Dental Product Shopper and Hygiene Product Shopper.

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