In Maine, the debate has been fierce about whether or not to have dental therapists as an official, recognized role. The creation of the role within the state is intended to increase preventative and emergency dental treatment. Many children in the US do not get appropriate or sufficient dental care, and in some states (like Alaska and Minnesota) dental therapists have been able to fill that care gap very effectively. Like in those states the bill specified that a dental therapist would be a graduate of a dental hygiene school, and would have completed a certain number of hours of training. Dental therapists are not given license to do all procedures, but many.
The Maine House of Representatives approved the dental therapists bill, but the Senate voted it down. In Canada and the United Kingdom, among others, dental therapists are an accepted and usual role. This debate will continue to unfold as systemic and oral health are ever-more firmly linked.
Domino, Donna. (2013) Maine Senate Defeats Dental Hygiene Therapist Bill. Dr Bicuspid, June 20.