Full Title: Igniting a Movement in a Dual Licensed Dental Workforce: The Minnesota Model
Authors: Colleen M. Brickle, RDH, EdD, Deborah A. Jacobi, RDH, MA, Clare E. Larkin, RDH, MSEd
JDH Issue: October 2023
Program Track: Research
Abstract: Increased awareness of oral health disparities in the United States has highlighted the need to expand the workforce and access to both primary and preventive dental care. Achieving oral health equity will require new dental team members with appropriate clinical skills dedicated to reaching historically marginalized populations through intra and interprofessional practice. Collective efforts by health care advocates in Minnesota led to legislation that created a dental hygiene-based workforce model inspired by the vision and foresight of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s “Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner.” In July 2023, there were 141 licensed dental therapists and 99 certified advanced dental therapists, with the majority being dual-licensed dental hygienists/dental therapists, providing primary care services in a variety of settings throughout the state. Current data confirm their contributions to increasing access to primary oral health care services for Minnesotans across the lifespan. While surmountable challenges remain, new opportunities are emerging for dental therapists within Minnesota’s transforming health care system. The purpose of this paper is to describe the implementation of this new workforce model in Minnesota, its challenges and successes to assist other states in developing new models for intraprofessional dental team members.
- Describe the rationale for introducing a new member of the dental team, i.e., dental therapist, to the United States.
- Summarize the impact that dental therapists are making toward improved access to oral health care for underserved populations.
- Relate the importance of collaborative advocacy efforts at state and national levels to assist with implementation and sustainability of dental therapy programs.
CE Credit Hours: 2.0
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