Recognizing that uplifting the voices and experiences of dental therapists is a crucial step toward growing the profession and improving access to equitable and effective oral health care, the National Partnership for Dental Therapy (NPDT) today announced the addition of a new co-chair, the American Dental Therapy Association (ADTA).
The American Dental Therapy Association (ADTA) joins Community Catalyst, the National Indian Health Board, and the National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity as co-chairs of the partnership, which was formed in 2019. The NPDT has guided the continued growth of dental therapy across the country—dental therapists are now authorized to work in 13 states, while over a dozen other states and Tribal governments are in the process of exploring authorization of the profession.
“Decades of evidence has shown that dental therapists are experts at providing high-quality, affordable oral health care while addressing critical gaps in access,” said Sarah Chagnon, president of the ADTA. “Every state and jurisdiction in the country should be able to license, educate, and employ dental therapists to be members of the dental team. We’re proud to join with the NPDT and ensure that more Americans—especially those from traditionally underserved areas—get the care they need.”
Dental therapists can work in a variety of settings, but they are specifically trained to extend routine care into areas where dental care is lacking, including schools, nursing homes, and rural and low-income communities. Because their employment cost is one-third to one-half the amount of a dentist, hiring dental therapists has proven to be a cost-effective way for a range of dental care settings to treat more low-income and uninsured patients with the same budget.
“Improving the dental care system and building a more representative workforce requires input and leadership from a diverse array of stakeholders,” said Tera Bianchi, director of partner engagement at Community Catalyst. “The ADTA is a passionate advocate for dental therapists and the patients they serve, and a leader in the fight for oral health care equity. We’re thrilled to welcome them to the team.”
The momentum for dental therapy continues to grow. In 2022, Colorado became the 13th state to allow dental therapists to practice in at least some settings and Skagit Valley College in Washington opened as the fifth dental therapy program in the U.S. Last August, a report from a federal advisory committee called on Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund additional dental therapy training programs, scholarships and repayment programs, and longitudinal tracking mechanisms to help the profession grow and support vulnerable communities.
About The National Partnership for Dental Therapy
Co-chaired by Community Catalyst, the National Indian Health Board and the National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity, the goal of the National Partnership for Dental Therapy is to elevate the visibility and broad, multi-sectorial support for dental therapy as an evidence-based way to improve access to oral health. We believe all communities could benefit from dental therapists, but the focus of the Partnership is improving access to much needed dental care to communities where the needs are the greatest.