How We Got Here

The need to improve access to oral health care in Michigan is not a new issue.  Despite efforts, the lack of access persists for many populations in our state.  For decades, disparities in oral health have existed due to barriers to access, including a misdistribution of dental providers, a shortage of dentists in Michigan who accept Medicaid and a lack of dentists who specialize in populations such as children, special needs adults and senior citizens. Other barriers to oral health care include lack of transportation, delays in getting appointments during a dental emergency, and lack of awareness of parents and caregivers about the importance of oral health care.


Licensing dental therapists to practice in Michigan will help the numerous populations in our state who remain underserved.


The Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health (MCMCH) and its partners are working to further evidence-based, cost effective policy solutions to improve access to oral health services. 

About Us

Access to dental care is limited or nonexistent for millions of Michigan residents. Seniors, pregnant women, low-income children, and other special populations are most at-risk for poor oral health. Oral health needs are more severe in certain parts of the state: there is a maldistribution of dentists across the state leaving large portions of rural and urban areas with dental shortages. 


Many people cannot receive dental care because they are uninsured or dentists do not accept public insurance. When people cannot get regular, routine dental care, they often resort to emergency rooms for relief of serious, complicated oral health conditions. This costs Michigan taxpayers money and often doesn’t alleviate patients’ underlying medical problems.


The Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health (MCMCH) is working to improve oral health and access to dental care in Michigan. Throughout 2015 MCMCH engaged a variety of stakeholders on potential policy solutions to Michigan's access challenges. While much was heard about reimbursement needs, the primary policy change mentioned was the need to explore additional workforce models. In October 2016 a delegation of dentists, hygienists, state agency staff and key stakeholders from Michigan visited Minnesota to learn more about the dental therapist model currently authorized there.
As a result of the trip and discussions to date, Senate 541 was introduced in September 2017 to create a midlevel provider. This common-sense legislation will allow dentists to hire dental therapists to provide routine care – like filling cavities – under their supervision. These providers, similar to physician assistants on medical teams, give dentists the flexibility to modernize and expand their practices in a financially sustainable way, while also treating more patients who otherwise would not have access to dental care.


Michigan has the opportunity to be a national leader in addressing its oral health needs through this innovative, cost-saving solution.


Stay in Touch!

Contact Us

We welcome your questions and comments about dental therapy! E-mail us using the link below!

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Let us know if you would like to stay informed with the latest dental therapy updates!

Join the Coalition

Use this link to join the MI Dental Access Coalition and show your support for dental therapy in Michigan! 



MI Dental Access Coalition

AARP Michigan

The Arc Michigan


Michigan Association of Health Plans

Michigan Association of School Nurses

Michigan Association of United Ways

Michigan’s Children

Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness

Michigan Community Action

Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health

Michigan Dental Hygienists’ Association

Michigan Disability Rights Coalition

Michigan League for Public Policy

Michigan Primary Care Association

National Association of Social Workers-Michigan

School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan

Wolverine Dental Hygienists’ Society

Wolverine Human Services

Lynda Gregorini, RDH

Anne Gwozdek, RDH, BA, MA

Jane Halaris RDH, BS, MA

James K. Haveman Jr.

Mailan Hudson, RDH

Annette Jackson, RDH, BS, MCTEc

Lorene Kline, RDH, BSDH

Samantha Mishler

RoseAnn Schihl, RDH, BS

Misty Davis, RDH, BS


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