Dental Therapy: Evolving in Minnesota’s Safety Net

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We identified Minnesota’s initial dental therapy employers and surveyed dental safety net providers’ perceptions of dental therapy.


In July 2011, we surveyed 32 Minnesota dental safety net providers to assess their prospective views on dental therapy employment options. In October 2013, we used an employment scan to reveal characteristics of the early adopters of dental therapy.


Before the availability of licensed dental therapists, safety net dental clinic directors overwhelmingly (77%) supported dental therapy. As dental therapists have become licensed over the past 2 years, the early employers of dental therapists are safety net clinics.


Although the concept of dental therapy remains controversial in Minnesota, it now has a firm foundation in the state’s safety net clinics. Dental therapists are being used in innovative and diverse ways, so, as dental therapy continues to evolve, further research to identify best practices for incorporating dental therapists into the oral health care team is needed.

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