Access to dental care is an increasingly serious problem for many people in the United States, particularly for children. There is a shortage of private dentists and a limited availability of affordable, or government-supported dental care. This is further compounded by the small number of private dentists willing to participate in public health insurance programs, or treat young children and other underserved populations, especially in rural areas.
As a result, many states are exploring the option of adding a new type of dental provider to the existing dental health team, similar to a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. The policy brief and report “Help Wanted: A Policymaker’s Guide to New Dental Providers,” explains the options and gives states the tools they need as they consider new and creative ways to deliver quality dental services to people who need them.
The Pew Center on the States and the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, conducted a comprehensive literature review and interviews with leading experts in several states to learn about existing proposals for new dental providers. The report and brief explore three provider types-dental therapists, community dental health coordinators and advanced dental hygiene practitioners – along with steps that state policy makers can consider to develop these new providers in their states.
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