Pew paper reviews new dental therapist research

New research from the University of Connecticut suggests that adding dental therapists to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) could significantly expand the availability of care for millions of American children (Journal of Dental Education, August 2012, Vol. 76:8, pp. 1061-1081).

In particular, by including dental therapists as providers in school-based programs operated by FQHCs, the researchers estimated states could provide access to care for 6.7 million Medicaid-eligible children nationwide. Their analysis also suggests that this increase in access could be realized for a cost of approximately $1.8 billion -- one-half of 1% of combined state and federal 2009 Medicaid spending.

Now the Pew Center on the States has released a white paper that reviews the study's findings and provides context from states where allied dental providers and school-based delivery models are already in place.

"Expanding the Dental Safety Net" also offers recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders to help them support the development and systemic integration of allied dental providers to ensure all children can receive the critical dental care they need, according to Pew.

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