Archive for March, 2011

University of Minnesota School of Dentistry Becomes the First College to Offer Dental Therapy Track

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Despite the innovative program’s proven track record, the number of states allowing dental therapists to provide oral health care remains at two: Minnesota and Alaska allow dental therapists to provide basic care in place of a full-fledged dentist. We can only hope that more states follow their lead. More dental therapists in practice means more dentists are free to provide specialized care. At the same time, having dental therapists means better access to oral health care for vulnerable populations.

Some, however—most notably the American Dental Association—aren’t entirely sold on the idea and are offering their own alternatives to improving community oral health.

From U.S. News & World Report:

Two states, Alaska and Minnesota, currently allow dental therapists to provide oral care, according to the American Dental Association. Minnesota was the first to license dental therapists, and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry has become the first college in the nation to offer a dental therapy track.

“We’re only in our second class,” said Dr. Patrick Lloyd, dean of Minnesota’s dentistry school, noting that 33 people applied for 10 slots in the most recent class. “We’re really proud to be the first dental school in the country to have an approved dental therapy program.”

Dental therapists receive two to three years of training in dental procedures. In Minnesota, they study alongside people who are training to become full-fledged dentists, Lloyd said.

“They use the same facilities and the same laboratories and are educated side-by-side to the same standards and level of competency,” the dean said. “The idea is that if they are educated together and learn together, they can better work together.

Read the whole story.

Oral Care Van Provides Dental Screenings for Children

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

With the help of local dentists, a national organization is sending out a fleet of vans all over the country to provide free dental screenings for children under the age of 12.

The Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program provides oral checkups and informational talks to help children learn to take care of their own teeth. Their ultimate goal, however, is connecting families with good “dental homes” where they can regularly receive care.

From The Pilot:

Students at The Academy of Moore County know what it takes to keep a healthy smile.

A Colgate Family Dollar Bright Smiles oral care van recently visited the school as a part of the national Bright Smiles, Bright Futures dental health program.

The mobile dental office is one of eight vans traveling around the country to provide free dental screenings for children under the age of 12.

Local dentists volunteer to evaluate children’s teeth and help them receive any additional treatments they may need.

As students from Nora Andersen’s first-grade class climbed into the van, Dr. William Pete McKay III, a West End dentist, greeted them with a smile. McKay has been volunteering to do dental screenings for children with various organizations since 1986.

Read the whole story.