BOSTON (AP) – Need a tooth pulled or a cavity filled? Forget the dentist. An increasing number of states are allowing or considering letting “dental therapists,” professionals with a lower level of training, do the job.
Several states are considering bills that would create a new midlevel position in dentistry called dental therapists or advanced dental hygiene practitioners.
They can perform common procedures such as filling cavities or pulling teeth, though more complex procedures would still be left with dentists. Public health advocates say dental therapists can greatly improve access to dental care for low-income people and those who live in rural areas.
In Massachusetts, a group that lobbies on behalf of dentists has for the first time signaled a willingness to embrace the concept.
Dentists have long opposed the midlevel position.