Dental Therapists Aim To Improve Oral Health For Underserved American Indians
A school in Alaska trains therapists to perform the most common procedures to work in areas where dentists are in short supply. Because most states bar dental therapists, a tribe in Washington created its own licensing system and gets private funding for the program.
The New York Times:
Where Dentists Are Scarce, American Indians Forge A Path To Better Care
Going to the dentist evokes a special anxiety for Verne McLeod. He grew up on the Swinomish Indian reservation here in northwest Washington State in the 1950s and vividly remembers the dentist who visited periodically. The doctor worked from a trailer, and did not bother with painkillers. “They just strapped us down and drilled,” said Mr. McLeod, 70. Poor oral health is a scourge on tribal lands across the nation. Indian preschool-aged children had four times the rate of untreated tooth decay as white children in a recent study. Poverty, diet and a decades-long lack of access to good care on remote reservations compound the problem. (Johnson, 5/22)