How Alaska's dental therapy program improved oral healthcare for residents

A nine-year study demonstrates the effectiveness of Alaska's dental therapy program in improving oral health in the Southwest region. 

Alaska became the first state to authorize dental therapists in 2004, with them beginning their work in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region in 2006.

More than 27,000 electronic health record transactions from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation from 2006 through 2015 were analyzed as part of the study, published Oct. 12 in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

The study showed the overall number of diagnostic, preventive and restorative services in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta increased. Researchers concluded that dental therapists made significant contributions to the delivery of dental services in Alaska Native communities.

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