Experts Develop Model Dental Therapy Regulations

The National Partnership for Dental Therapy (NPDT) announced the release of the Model Dental Therapist Rule and Best Practices Guide (the Model Rule), which will support the implementation, regulation and growth of the dental therapy profession. It was written by the National Model Dental Therapy Rule Panel, a group of 15 experts with extensive experience in the regulation of dental professions, administrative law, Tribal law and dental therapy.

“The release of the Model Rule is another positive step in getting dental therapists into the field to provide effective, equitable and community-informed treatment to historically-excluded populations,” said Tera Bianchi, program director for the Dental Access Project at Community Catalyst, a co-chair of NPDT.

The Model Rule will provide guidance to policymakers, state licensing agencies, dental boards, Tribes, dental and nonprofit organizations, and other interested stakeholders in states that enacted dental therapy legislation and are planning regulatory implementation. This publication is another valuable tool for the development of state-level infrastructure for dental therapy education, practice and implementation. Other fundamental resources include model dental therapy legislation and the Commission on Dental Accreditation’s (CODA) national dental therapy education standards.

Kristen Mizzi Angelone, senior manager at The Pew Charitable Trusts, said, “The Model Rule provides evidence-based guidance that states need to develop rules to regulate the licensure and practice of this growing dental profession in the U.S. Along with the model legislation and CODA standards, this publication offers state stakeholders a foundation of dental therapy resources and reference materials as they move to authorize the practice of dental therapy, educate dental therapists, and then integrate these providers into their dental delivery systems—improving oral health and increasing access to care.”

Dental therapists, skilled dental professionals similar to physician assistants in medicine, have been working around the world for 100 years and in the U.S. since 2005, beginning in Alaska Native communities. They are currently authorized to practice in a dozen states around the country, but many states have yet to complete the complex rulemaking process.

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