Dental Therapists

Dental therapists are oral health professionals who provide dental care while working under the direction of a dentist. One way to think of them is as the oral health equivalent to physician assistants. They are somewhere between dentists and dental hygienists. While dental therapists can’t do everything dentists can do, they can perform a broad range of preventive and restorative services, from drilling cavities and placing fillings to extracting baby teeth. They are trained to perform procedures that are needed for good oral health, and they are required to serve low-income, uninsured, and underserved patients, or to provide services in dental health professional shortage areas.

Dental therapists must graduate from programs approved by the State of Minnesota. There are currently two schools with approved programs. One requires a BA or BS in dental hygiene first and graduates students with a master’s level degree. The other program offers dual training as a dental therapist and dental hygienist. To be able to work as a dental therapist, you must be licensed through the Board of Dentistry after completing a dental therapy program.

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