Dental therapists, also known as advanced dental hygiene practitioners, typically receive more training than hygienists but not quite as much as full-blown dentists. With that training, they can install fillings, seat temporary crowns, and perform extractions. Some states, such as Maine and Vermont, allow dental therapists to perform these procedures without a dentist present.
Now, according to a recent Daily Mail article, more states may follow suit, including Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas.
Supporters of these proposals argue that allowing dental therapists to perform more advanced procedures would broaden access to oral care, particularly for under-served patients in low-income or rural areas. These areas typically don’t have high concentrations of dentists, and even when dentists are present, they often don’t treat patients because of dismally low Medicaid reimbursement rates (another topic we covered here).
Not everyone agrees. The American Dental Association believes that it is “in the best interests of the public that only dentists diagnose dental disease and perform surgical and irreversible procedures.”
What are your thoughts? Should dental therapists be allowed to perform more advanced procedures without a dentist present? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!