Dental therapists bridge gap

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2012 - 1:05 PM

Minnesota is the first state to license the midlevel providers, who span the divide between hygienists and dentists.

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RalphMJul. 15, 12 3:05 PM

Congratulations. I have been a dental laboratory technician for 42 years, and I know firsthand, Hygienists are highly educated, and skilled in their profession. I am behind this idea 100%. With technology racing ahead full speed in the dental business, this will allow the Dentist, to concentrate on more difficult and challenging cases, and to learn the new technology. Children, and elderly, will really benefit from this service, and will not have to wait so long to get in for appointments.

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uptownbred63Jul. 15, 1210:03 PM

Here's a public notice---- This article doesn't tell the entire truth about Dental Therapists. The University if Minnesota Dental Therapists ARE NOT ALL HYGIENISTS. Of the 10 or so that graduated from the University Of Minnesota this year, only 1 or 2 of them are trained as hygienists. Check my facts because my numbers may not be exactly right, but the percentages of hygienists are very accurate. Metropolitan State REQUIRES their Dental Therapy students to be hygenists, the U of Minnesota DOESN'T! The U of M's program is a lesser program and yet the press doesn't inform the public in the way that they should. These therapists are not equally trained. The hygenists in the Metro State program had between 10 and 25 years of experience in hygiene work. 80% or more of the U of M students had none. The U of Minnesota has a GREAT hygiene program, but they are being dishonest in their training of Dental Therapists. The training that the Metro State students receive is superior. These students get 3 years of additional dental training on top of their initial hygiene training. They are tremendous assets to the field of dentisty. That doesn't mean the U of M students aren't great as well, it just means that they aren't as prepared as the Metro State graduates and can’t do any hygiene work. And, reporters don't pick that up. Given that the U of M has the biggest Dental School in the state you would think that they would ensure that their students were as well or better prepared than any other program. And yet they aren't. Dental Therapists are needed and will help tremendously, but don't be fooled by a system that isn't really honest. There is a difference between the training of a 25 year hygienist who takes another 3 years of dental education versus someone that has not worked as a hygienist and has simply attended 3 years of school.

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SammyDootsJul. 16, 12 6:52 AM

I read the other 2 comments here & all I have to say is "Why doesn't she have gloves on when she's touching someone's mouth to look inside of it?!" What kind of school would teach that?! Duh!!! People have germs & we spread disease quickly. Would you like to be her next patient? Do they also teach them to not wash their hands?

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mom2fourJul. 16, 12 6:56 AM

@ uptownbred63: If true, would not the state board need to decide about what credentials are necessary to be licensed? One would hope that the regulator would require the greater educational criteria..............

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mom2fourJul. 16, 12 7:09 AM

If ObamaCare comes to full implementation, look for more creative medical "technicians" to take over more of what medical doctors do as well. How else will you control costs with less doctors and more patients? Appendix removal by a nurse practitioner anyone?

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danielleamyJul. 16, 12 8:10 AM

It's nice she is performing an exam without gloves.

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grumpy2Jul. 16, 1211:19 AM

Its about time to try to lower dental costs.In other states dentists place ads showing what they charge! Whats the deal here in mn.

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dtsummaJul. 16, 12 1:51 PM

"Public notice"-The University of Minnesota program trains DTs. Metro State trains ADTs. The UofM has a world renowned dental program which is ranked one of the top in the world. It is not simply a state college. DTs at the UofM are trained and tested alongside, and to the exact same standards, as their fellow dental, dental hygiene, and dental assistant students. This new occupation was created to help increase access to care, not increase the abilities of dental hygienists. The DTs and ADTs scope of practices does not even encompass what a hygienist is trained for. The current problem is helping HMO, MA, uninsured patients, underserved patients, and children have easier access to dental care. There is a surplus of hygienists in MN, but adding DTs will help to increase patient loads in clinics so more hygienists will be needed. The UofM’s program is in no way inferior. All but one of our first 9 students passed the dental boards (much of which is the exact same as a dentists boards) with flying colors, but only two of the Metro States students passed the first time. All but three of the original 9 dental students at the UofM had years of previous dental experience. DTs specialize in restorations, working with children, and increasing access to care. Lets not lose sight over what this program was originally created for and stick together so it can have the impact it was meant to. PS: this picture was obviously taken as a photo shoot, not an actual clinical picture.

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uptownbred63Jul. 16, 12 8:26 PM

Dear dtsumma---- You make several corrrect points. I would argue some of them though. The article didn't differentiate between DT and ADT. An important distinction. Experience in hygiene is a big difference versus not having any. Since you seem to know- How many in the class of 10 were currently practicing hygienists? When you say experience what do you mean? Additionally, a hygienist is more versatile and can add to the practice in a way a DT can't, or shouldn't. The testing process was easier on the U students. A U of M student was allowed to fix a mistake (by a U of M tester) that a Metro State student was failed on. How often did that happen? Was it because of a prejudice against the state school? It absolutely was! No way these experienced dental professionals couldn't compete with the U's lesser experienced ones. So.... you are obviously knowledgeable about the changes in the field of dentistry and supportive of the U, but I would continue to argue that the information is not completely accurate. The first comment in this list is indicative of that. The two programs are not turning out the same quality of students. There is a difference in the experience of the Dt's and ADT"S involved in this story. And, that point was not made. The U is a great place and their hygiene program is wonderful, but the DT program is not all that it could be, or should be in comparison to the Metro State program. Since the U is the leader in Dentistry in our state their students should be the most qualified. I think the U started their program after Metro State and used different qualifications to make it look like their program was as good. A shortcut to build their program.

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uptownbred63Jul. 17, 12 2:34 PM

Dear dtsumma----The UofM has a world renowned dental program which is ranked one of the top in the world. It is not simply a state college. This seems condescending and an insult to state college students. The U of M is not the end all and be all of dentistry and they took a shorcut in developing their program. If they didn't require the students to be hygienists then they should make that difference known to the patients and the public. The U represents both the DT and ADT as equals and they aren't. Which provider do you think patients would choose if they knew the truth? Would you rather have someone with significant experience working on you? Or a newbie? And the testing process was flawed. Many of the testers were U of M dentists and they were much easier on the U of M students. They had the same attitude you do about state schools.

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