The Latest News in Dental Therapy

7/17/21- Dentistry Today: Dental Therapy Moves Forward in Michigan


An overview of dental therapy in Michigan and its potential impacts on access to care and the oral health workforce.

5/17/21- Pew: Michigan Finalizes Rules Expanding Access to Dental Care


"Michigan state regulators recently finalized rules that will help expand dental care to the state’s most underserved people, including low-income children and communities of color as well as those who are pregnant, over 65, or in rural areas."


3/11/21- 100+ Organizations Endorse Dental Therapists


The National Partnership for Dental Therapy announces more than 100 organizations have joined their coalition to support dental therapy as an equity-focused, cost-effective means of addressing a lack of dental care in the United States.


6/23/21- The Bulletin, Oregon: Lawmakers OK New Class of Dental Therapists


"This bill reflects the evidence that unequivocally shows that where dental therapists are providing care, access is increased and oral health outcomes are improved.”



July 17, 32021: Dental Therapy Moves Forward in Michigan

An overview of dental therapy in Michigan and its potential impacts on access to care and the oral health workforce.


June 23, 2021: Lawmakers OK New Class of Dental Therapists

"This bill reflects the evidence that unequivocally shows that where dental therapists are providing care, access is increased and oral health outcomes are improved.”


May 17, 2021: Michigan Finalizes Rules Expanding Access to Dental Care

Pew reports on Michigan's final step forward in dental therapy.


March 16, 2021: 7 years after lawmakers allowed dental therapists, Maine’s 1st is practicing in Bangor

The Bangor Daily News profiles Maine's first practicing dental therapist.


March 11, 2021: 100+ Organizations Endorse Dental Therapists

The National Partnership for Dental Therapy announces more than 100 organizations have joined their coalition to support dental therapy as an equity-focused, cost-effective means of addressing a lack of dental care in the United States.


August 18, 2020: Alaska Dental Therapy Program Gains CODA Accreditation

This report from Dentistry Today details the exciting news of the ADA’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accreditation of the dental therapy program at Ilisaġvik College in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. According to the National Partnership for Dental Therapy, this is the first time that CODA has granted accreditation to a dental therapy education program.


September 15, 2019: Fixing the gap: State authorization of dental therapist occupation will help fix dental care shortage, but it's not without opposition

The Herald-Palladium in St. Joseph published this report on the progress of dental therapy in Michigan and interviewed MI Dental Access coalition members. All of Southwest Michigan - Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties - is a HRSA dental health shortage area.


August 18, 2019: Backers of rural dental care find something to smile about

This Associated Press piece discusses the particular challenges in rural areas as the number of dentists dwindles.


October 11, 2018: Dental Therapists Can Heal Michigan's Dental Shortage

This commentary piece from the Heartland Institute notes that SB 541 would help address Michigan's access to care problem: "Dental therapists have proven to be safe, effective, and affordable providers of dental care in America and abroad. Lawmakers should free these qualified professionals to treat all Michiganders, especially those who are most vulnerable."


July 24, 2018: Open door for dental therapists in Michigan

This editorial from The Detroit News supports SB 541. As the editorial notes, "the creation of a mid-level provider would offer a less-costly professional who could make lower Medicaid payments work for dental practices -- consequently expanding access to dental care."

The News editorial board interviewed both MCMCH Executive Director Amy Zaagman and Ryan Grinnell-Ackerman, Michigan Primary Care Association Policy and Government Affairs Manager, for the piece, and the result is a well-informed, comprehensive look at why SB 541 should move forward.


May 17, 2018: Ducey signs bill allowing 'dental therapists' to practice in Arizona

Before Michigan, Arizona was the latest state to license dental therapists when Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation that was passed by the Arizona House of Representatives 47-13 and passed unanimously in the Senate. Dental therapists can practice in urban Indian clinics or tribal health centers, community health centers, non-profit dental practices, federally qualified health centers and other locations under the new law. 

January 10, 2018: Dental therapists are helping the less fortunate in Minnesota. Michigan should follow their lead

Michigan Radio's Senior Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry interviewed MCMCH Executive Director Amy Zaagman about SB 541 and the difference dental therapy has already made in improving access to care in Minnesota.


October 10, 2017: Lawmakers Should Smile Upon Dental Therapist Bill

Michael Van Beek, director of research for the Mackinac Center, authored this op-ed discussing the economic impact of Michigan's exisiting access to oral health care burden. A 2014 study by Anderson Economic Group identified about 7,000 Michigan patients using the emergency room in 2011 to deal with symptoms from preventable dental issues. Hospitals charged over $15 million for the services provided to these patients. About 1,000 of these patients were even hospitalized, but about half of these hospital stays were for complications relating to cavities — a problem that can be handled routinely in a dentist’s chair.


September 14, 2017: Dental Therapists Enhance Care

Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) discusses the reasons he introduced Senate Bill 541 in this op-ed for the Detroit News.


August 6, 2017: America's Dental Crisis-Thousands Cross Into One Mexican City for Treatment

NBC Nightly News profiles Los Algodones, Mexico--home to roughly 300 dental clinics, and the Americans who travel there for affordable dental care.


July 28, 2017: This Dental Therapist is Filling a Gap in U.S. Healthcare

This piece in Trust magazine, published by the Pew Trusts, explores the many roles Jodi Becker plays as part of her job as an advanced dental therapist. Most weeks, she can be found packing her portable equipment and hitting the road to treat the many people in rural and suburban Minnesota who either can’t find a dentist to treat them or can’t travel to an office to receive care.


July 1, 2017: The Unexpected Political Power of Dentists

This Washington Post article discusses the efforts of the American Dental Association to fight mid-level provider legislation in any state considering it. "Among the general public, dentists tend to have a Norman Rockwell appeal — solo practitioners who clean your teeth, tell your kids to cut down on the candy, and put their seal of approval on a range of minty toothpastes and mouthwashes. But lawmakers from Maine to Alaska see a different side of dentists and their lobby, the American Dental Association, describing a political force so unified, so relentless and so thoroughly woven into American communities that its clout rivals that of the gun lobby."


June 23, 2017: How America's Dental Health Crisis Created Mexico's "Molar City"
This HuffPost article discusses a report written by researchers at the conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute. The Goldwater Institute is one of a growing number of groups on both sides of the political aisle advocating for the licensure of midlevel providers in dentistry as a means to improve access to affordable dental care in the U.S. It also examines the small border town, Los Algodones, which is better known by its nickname, Molar City, because of the number of Americans traveling there for care.


May 23, 2017: Our Teeth Are Making Us Sick

This New York Times column highlights difficulty with finding oral health care and explores the long-term health problems that result from neglect: “Gum disease can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and among pregnant women it is correlated with lower birth weights for their babies.” Additionally, tooth decay causes pain, an inability to eat solid foods, and even more serious problems if left untreated.  


May 15, 2017: The Painful Truth About Teeth

This Washington Post report takes an in-depth look at the growing crisis surrounding access to dental care. "Millions of others rely on charity clinics and hospital emergency rooms to treat painful and neglected teeth. Unable to afford expensive root canals and crowns, many simply have them pulled. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans older than 65 do not have a single real tooth left."


May 1, 2017: Dental therapy nation is just a matter of time

This report discusses how dental therapy advocates may finally get a leg up on the powerful dental lobby around the country.


April 19, 2017: Dentists Know Best, So Let Them Choose

This piece ran in the trade publication Dentistry Today and was authored by Michael Hamilton of the Illinois-based Heartland Institute. Hamilton discusses how states are preventing dentists from expanding their practices. "One kind of dental teammate inaccessible to dentists in most states is the dental therapist. Obstruction of dentists’ freedom to hire dental therapists ensues not from political bias but from special interests. Opponents include dentists who are concerned that patient care and the traditional dentistry model will be turned upside down if an enterprising dentist strays from the pack by hiring and supervising a dental therapist."


April 9, 2017: 6 years in, dental therapist experiment is working, experts say

This SC Times piece reviews how dental therapy in Minnesota is working. Since the first dental therapists began practicing there in 2011, a 2016 study by the University of Minnesota found dental therapists saw up to 90 percent of uninsured patients or patients on public assistance. Wait times were also being reduced for patients.


September 21, 2016: WILS Interview on Dental Therapy

MCMCH Executive Director Amy Zaagman was interviewed for this radio program, discussing the benefits of adding dental therapists to Michigan's workforce.


September 1, 2016: Michigan's Looming Dentist Shortage?

This blog post from The Mackinac Center discusses how mid-level providers could fill the shortage gap in Michigan.

August 30, 2016: Could dental therapy improve access to care in Michigan?

The Michigan Radio current events program Stateside did an interview with Dr. David Gesko, senior vice president of HealthPartners in Minnesota and the Michigan Dental Association, discussing SB 1013 and the work of dental therapists in Minnesota.


August 29, 2016: You Don't Need to Be a Dentist to Fill a Cavity (download below)

The Wall Street Journal explored the issue in Michigan and other states in this piece.

August 29, 2016: Crying need for tooth care warrants targeted use of dental therapists

Dr. Marilyn Stolberg, a dentist who has practiced throughout northern lower Michigan and served as director of clinical education for the Allied Dental programs at Ferris State University as well as chief dental officer at a federally qualified health center, spoke to the need for dental therapists to join Michigan's workforce in this op-ed, published


August 7, 2016: Give dentists the option to hire therapists

In response to an opinion piece authored by Dr. Larry DeGroat, president of the Michigan Dental Association, Dr. David Gesko, senior vice president of HealthPartners in Minnesota, submitted this letter published in the Detroit News, explaining that dental therapists are contributing to increased access in Minnesota.


July 7, 2016: Down in the mouth: Michigan's dentist shortage prompts reform effort

The nonprofit news group featured an article on Senate Bill 1013, discussing dental therapists and the role they could play in addressing Michigan's access to oral health care issue.
MCMCH Executive Director Amy Zaagman wrote this op-ed for Bridge Magazine, detailing Michigan's oral health care access problems, and why introducing dental therapists to the state's workforce can help.


June 20, 2016: Big Smiles in Vermont Over Dental Therapy

On June 20, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed Senate Bill 20 into law, authorizing the practice of dental therapy. After a five-year campaign by the Vermont Oral Health Care for All Coalition, Vermont became the third state, joining Maine and Minnesota, to allow dentists to hire these midlevel providers. Dental therapists also work with dentists caring for Native American tribes in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington.


May 26, 2016: Vermont Tech Lays Groundwork for Dental Therapy Program

This news report looks at Vermont Technical College's draft curriculum for its dental therapy program. The Vermont legislature passed a bill this session to license dental therapists.


May 24, 2016: Proper Dental Care Should Be a Human Right

This Boston Globe op-ed urges Massachusetts lawmakers to pass the Dental Health Practitioner legislation.


May 22, 2016: Where Dentists Are Scarce, American Indians Forge a Path to Better Care

The New York Times reports on a dental therapist practicing at the Swinomish Dental Clinic in Washington.


May 3, 2016: Confronting Dental Decay in Indian Country

KPLU public radio produced this three-part series examining dental care among Native Americans.


April 19, 2016: Tribal Pilot Program May Point to Dental-care Future For All Oregonians

A guest column by Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson discussing a pilot project for clinics in two southwest Oregon tribes to hire dental therapists.


April 13, 2016: Former health secretary advocates for dental therapists

Dr. Louis Sullivan, former secretary of health and human services who served under President George H.W. Bush, spoke to the North Dakota Legislature's interim Health Services Committee April 13 about the growing lack of access to dentistry, particularly in more rural areas.


February 27, 2016: Shortage of dentists makes case for change

James Haveman, former director of what was then the Michigan Department of Community Health, discusses in this Detroit News op-ed how states are creating new midlevel dental care providers with good results. 



You Don't Need to Be a Dentist to Fill a Cavity
WSJ.You Don’t Need to Be a Dentist to Fi[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [293.8 KB]
Print Print | Sitemap
© Michigan Dental Access