Today, Community Catalyst and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) are launching a groundbreaking national partnership to improve access to dental care across the U.S. This joint venture – the National Partnership for Dental Therapy – represents a unique coordinated effort between Tribal governments and consumer groups to advance equitable oral health policy for all. The overarching goal of the National Partnership is to accelerate the authorization of dental therapists nationwide so that people can get dental care where and when they need it, in their own communities.
Dental therapists began practicing in the U.S. in 2004 in Tribal communities in Alaska. They are now authorized to practice in some or all settings in Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, Vermont, Washington State, and through a pilot program in Oregon. And with good reason. Dental therapists have expanded care to more than 45,000 people in Alaska alone. In Minnesota, they have dramatically increased the number of low-income children who receive dental care and have expanded access in rural and community settings, including schools, Head Start programs, community centers, Veteran’s facilities and nursing homes. We firmly believe that this solution can work for any community. Everyone, no matter what state they live in, should have timely, affordable access to dental care.
We are launching the National Partnership for Dental Therapy to make that access a reality.
More than a dozen states other and Tribal communities have introduced or have pending legislation. With the continuing growth of dental therapy as a proven method of improving access to dental care, the National Partnership will work to facilitate greater national consistency across all states to reduce variability, facilitate the ability of dental therapists to relocate and support diverse employers to hire dental therapists.
The National Partnership for Dental Therapy will work to help facilitate the further growth of the dental therapy profession by:
- Elevating the importance of evidence-based national standards for dental therapy training, licensure and certification to help promote programs that improve access to care
- Actively sharing accurate, evidence-based information about the dental therapy profession as it evolves
- Serving as a forum for dental therapy supporters to share information and connect with each other
- Elevating the visibility of and the broad, multi-sectoral support for dental therapy programs across the country
Dental Therapy Works
Dental therapists are already expanding access to care and improving outcomes, especially to places where dental providers have historically been in short supply and for people who have faced steep structural barriers to getting care. They will continue to be a growing part of efforts to prioritize oral health equity in the dental delivery system. The National Partnership for Dental Therapy aims to maximize the ability of this innovative provider to advance better oral health outcomes for all communities.
To learn more, visit the website for the National Partnership at www.DentalTherapy.org and follow us at @GoDentalTherapy. Or for more information, contact Tera Bianchi at email@example.com or Brett Weber at BWeber@nihb.org.