There’s a new kind of practitioner emerging in Minnesota dental clinics.
Megan Meyer, a 2011 graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry dental therapy program, regularly fills cavities, extracts primary teeth, and puts in crowns and spacers.
These responsibilities are normally reserved for the dentist.
“Dentists can’t see everyone who needs to be seen,” said Meyer to the Gazette. “I am able to free them up from some procedures, allowing them to concentrate on more higher-level, complex services.”
Dental therapists earn their degree in two and a half years, compared to the four years required for dentists. Meyer compares the position to a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.
Currently, Minnesota is the only state to license dental therapists. Other states, including California, Kansas, Maine, and New Hampshire are looking to dental therapy as a solution to reducing the care gap.
“The need for dental therapists is huge,” said Meyer.