Access to Dental Care

Today, many Americans do not have access to the dental care they need to maintain their overall health and well-being.

About 1 in 4 children and 1 in 4 non-elderly adults in this country have untreated tooth decay. The prevalence of tooth decay is even higher among low-income families.

Barriers preventing consumers from getting care extend beyond cost. More than 49 million Americans live in areas designated as not having enough dental providers to serve their community. This dental workforce shortage hits low-income and rural communities the hardest.   

Adding mid-level dental providers, like dental therapists, to the dental workforce will expand access to essential dental care in underserved communities.

Dental therapists work as part of a dental team to perform routine dental care under the general supervision of a dentist. They also provide valuable prevention and education services within their communities.

Expanding the dental team to include dental therapists enables dental practices to serve more patients and allows dentists to focus on treating more patients with complex care needs. 

Dental therapists already provide safe, effective care in more than 50 other countries, as well as in communities in Alaska and Minnesota.

More states should expand the dental team to include mid-level providers 

It’s up to states to expand the dental team to include mid-level providers through their licensure laws and regulations.

Families USA’s Access to Dental Care Initiative works to increase awareness about the need to improve access to dental care and support efforts to expand the use of mid-level dental providers, like dental therapists, in other states.