Free the Dental Therapists

Dental therapists don’t receive as much training as a dentist. But they can perform some of the same basic services — such as pulling teeth and filling cavities — under the supervision of a dentist.

In Minnesota and Alaska, the two states that have practicing dental therapists so far, some of the therapists are able to take their work on the road, traveling to rural areas to treat those who have little or no access to dentists — or who have limited dental coverage. The dental therapists charge less than dentists and are able to take all types of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare.

More on the limited access to dental health care in Politico.

Comments (12)

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  1. Ender says:

    I would be pretty upset if I was paying for a Dentist’s services, and received a therapist. However, if the price for a therapist is cheaper than a dentist, I might consider it.

  2. H. James Prince says:

    “dentists aren’t thrilled about the idea”

    Well of course they aren’t. They want to continue to charge exorbitant sums for routine work.

  3. The Tooth Fairy says:

    I think this is great move, it increases the supply of the services. By extension, an increase in supply decreases the price of that service, consumers capture more savings.

  4. The Tooth Fairy says:

    Plus, there is not enough of me to go around to provide the service, I welcome dental therapists in doing this job.

  5. Anthony Peters says:

    This is certainly a good move. These therapists are trained for general dental care, which is overcharged by a regular dentist.

  6. Anthony Sombers says:

    I don’t see why more states don’t start adopting these practices, especially as it makes complete sense for care in rural areas where people don’t care dental care access and can’t afford to pay a dentist.

  7. Gabriel Odom says:

    I didn’t know that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson read this blog. (if you don’t get the joke: )

    All jesting aside, you make some excellent – albeit intuitively obvious – points. If you increase the supply of a good or service, then (ceteris paribus) the price for that good or service will decrease. Specifically, dentists and dental therapists do not provide the same service, but rather supplementary services. The results, however, are the same.

  8. John Kumar says:

    If the tooth fairy is okay with this move, so am I. Something similar should be adopted to health care at large, specifically, nurses should be allowed to treat patients with non-acute conditions. Doing so, frees up other physicians in dealing with more acute conditions.

  9. Jamison says:

    I am 100% behind the idea of opening up the dental hygene profession. Competition breeds success!

  10. Marison says:

    As long as it benefits the ones with more limited access to care, I don’t see what the inconvenience is. Those who can afford to pay a dentist for their services, then have the option of doing so. Let those with limited coverage be able to at least receive basic care from these therapists. Better that than nothing, right?

  11. Edward Swetsen says:

    More states should adopt a similar approach to this issue. Dental therapists can perform basic procedures, which to those folks living in rural areas, may be more than enough. Thumbs up!

  12. Buster says:

    Most of us would go to the dentist more often if it was easier to do, and the cost was lower. I’ve spent many thousands on my teeth. Hew much better it would have been to have easier access to a dental therapist.