WHAT WE DO

A dental therapist is a licensed oral health professional who practices as part of a dental team to provide primary care, including preventive and restorative services. 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. The work dental therapists do ensure that more people, regardless of location or income, have the opportunity to receive quality oral health care. Read the full scope of practice for dental therapists below.

 

SEE US IN ACTION

Christy Jo Fogarty, an advanced dental therapist at a non-profit clinic in Minnesota, describes working with patients and how she interacts with her supervising dentist.
Dr. John T. Powers, DDS, a private-practice dentist in Montevideo, MN, describes working with a dental therapist to expand access to care in his rural Minnesota town.

See more videos from The North Shore Health Care Foundation

 

Scope of Practice

According to Minnesota 2009 Session Laws, Chapter 95, Article 3, Subd. 4, the scope of practice for a Dental Therapist includes the following:

  • (a) A licensed dental therapist may perform dental services as authorized under this section within the parameters of the collaborative management agreement.
  • (b) The services authorized to be performed by a licensed dental therapist include the oral health services, as specified in paragraphs (c) and (d), and within the parameters of the collaborative management agreement.
  • (c) A licensed dental therapist may perform the following services under general supervision, unless restricted or prohibited in the collaborative management agreement:
    • oral health instruction and disease prevention education, including nutritional counseling and dietary analysis
    • preliminary charting of the oral cavity
    • making radiographs
    • mechanical polishing
    • application of topical preventive or prophylactic agents, including fluoride varnishes and pit and fissure sealants
    • pulp vitality testing
    • application of desensitizing medication or resin
    • fabrication of athletic mouthguards
    • placement of temporary restorations
    • fabrication of soft occlusal guards
    • tissue conditioning and soft reline
    • atraumatic restorative therapy
    • dressing changes
    • tooth reimplantation
    • administration of local anesthetic
    • administration of nitrous oxide
  • (d) A licensed dental therapist may perform the following services under indirect supervision:
    • emergency palliative treatment of dental pain;
    • the placement and removal of space maintainers;
    • cavity preparation
    • restoration of primary and permanent teeth
    • placement of temporary crowns
    • preparation and placement of preformed crowns
    • pulpotomies on primary teeth
    • indirect and direct pulp capping on primary and permanent teeth
    • stabilization of reimplanted teeth
    • extractions of primary teeth
    • suture removal
    • brush biopsies
    • repair of defective prosthetic devices
    • recommending of permanent crowns
  • (e) For purposes of this section and section 150A.106, "general supervision" and "indirect supervision" have the meanings given in Minnesota Rules, part 3100.0100, subpart 21.
  • Subd. 5. Dispensing authority. (a) A licensed dental therapist may dispense and administer the following drugs within the parameters of the collaborative management agreement and within the scope of practice of the dental therapist: analgesics, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics. (b) The authority to dispense and administer shall extend only to the categories of drugs identified in this subdivision, and may be further limited by the collaborative management agreement. (c) The authority to dispense includes the authority to dispense sample drugs within the categories identified in this subdivision if dispensing is permitted by the collaborative management agreement. (d) A licensed dental therapist is prohibited from dispensing or administering a narcotic drug as defined in section 152.01, subdivision 10.
  • Subd. 6. Application of other laws. A licensed dental therapist authorized to practice under this chapter is not in violation of section 150A.05 as it relates to the unauthorized practice of dentistry if the practice is authorized under this chapter and is within the parameters of the collaborative management agreement.
  • Subd. 7. Use of dental assistants. (a) A licensed dental therapist may supervise dental assistants to the extent permitted in the collaborative management agreement and according to section 150A.10, subdivision 2. (b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a licensed dental therapist is limited to supervising no more than four registered dental assistants or nonregistered dental assistants at any one practice setting. 

According to Minnesota 2009 Session Laws, Chapter 95, Article 3, Section 25, the scope of practice for an Advanced Dental Therapist includes the following:

Subd. 2. Scope of practice.

  • (a) An advanced dental therapist certified by the board under this section may perform the following services and procedures pursuant to the written collaborative management agreement:                
    • (1) an oral evaluation and assessment of dental disease and the formulation of an    individualized treatment plan authorized by the collaborating dentist;
    • (2) the services and procedures described under [the Dental Therapist scope of  practice] section 150A.105, subdivision 4, paragraphs (c) and (d); and
    • (3) nonsurgical extractions of permanent teeth as limited in subdivision 3, paragraph (b).
  • (b) The services and procedures described under this subdivision may be performed under general supervision.