Analysis

Slideshow: New Types of Dental Providers in Alaska Help Close the Access Gap

Thirty miles above the Arctic Circle, people in the remote village of Shungneck, Alaska must rely on snowmobiles to reach the few stores or services within driving distance. For these residents, finding dental care was very difficult before the Indian Health Service launched a program to train and deploy Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHATs) to serve Alaska’s tribal communities.

DHATs play a role in delivering dental care that is similar to the role performed by nurse practitioners in the medical field. Stephanie Woods is a DHAT, and she has been treating patients in Alaska for seven years. She provides routine care like cleanings and fillings in areas where tooth decay is widespread and dentists are scarce. Licensing new types of providers is a cost-effective way for states to improve access for underserved Americans.

Listen to audio to hear more of Stephanie’s story and view the slideshow to see what DHATs in Alaska do: 

audio button Stephanie describes visiting patients in their homes.

audio button Stephanie talks about the importance of visiting schools.

Date:
March 22, 2012
Contact:
Mary McNamara | 202.540.6580
Project:
Children's Dental Policy
Issues:
Access to Dental Care, Dental Workforce, Funding, Children's Health
 
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