FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

What is a dental therapist?
A dental therapist is a licensed oral health care professional who works along with a dental team to provide quality patient care. Similar to a nurse practitioner, dental therapists have received advanced training and are qualified to perform certain services without the direct supervision of a dentist. Dental Therapists typically work in clinics that serve low-income, uninsured or underserved populations. 

What training do dental therapists receive?
Dental therapists receive extensive training and clinical experience. Earning a dental therapy degree can take anywhere from 2-4 years, depending upon the specific program. In 2009, Minnesota became the first state to establish licensure of dental therapists - Dental Therapists (DT) and Advanced Dental Therapists (ADT).

In Minnesota, the University of Minnesota and Metropolitan State University both offer dental therapy degrees. 

Photo by Sneksy/iStock / Getty Images

What is the scope of practice of a dental therapist?
Depending upon the level of training, dental therapists can operate under either general or indirect supervision of a licensed dentist. The scope of practice for both Dental Therapists and Advanced Dental Therapists has been defined by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry and can be found here. Dental Therapists are also required to establish a Collaborative Management Agreement with their supervising dentist, which further defines the dental therapists role within a practice.           

What benefits do dental therapists provide dentists?
Dental therapists help dentists provide quality oral health care to more patients. Employing a dental therapist allows dentists to perform at the top of their license by performing the mid-level procedures that are beyond the scope of a dental hygienist. Hiring a dental therapist is less expensive than hiring another associate, so this means a dentist can grow their practice by seeing more patients, increasing revenue and decreasing per-unit cost.  

How do dental therapists impact the communities they serve?
Oral health is critical to good overall health. An unhealthy mouth may increase your risk of serious health problems such as stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Dental therapists help promote overall community health by bringing quality oral health care to uninsured or underserved populations.  

How do I become a member of the Minnesota Dental Therapy Association?
Joining is easy! Just visit the Members tab of our website and you'll find all of the information you need.