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In Rural Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapists Can Be Part Of Much-Needed Solution for Dental Care

Saturday, Nov. 19th 2011 8:31 AM

Where access to dental care and dentist are limited dental health aide therapists may improve oral health care. Since there is a shortage of dentist willing to practice in the smaller remote villages in Alaska, having to rely on traditional itinerant care approach leaves people with limited access to emergency and preventive dental care treatments. This allows dental disease to worsen and fosters expectations that dental care should be sought only when a person is in pain.

However a study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health, surveyed 62 adults and more than 200 parents of children 6 to 17 years of age who had been treated during the previous year by a dental health aid therapist. They where asked about their experiences.

The patients surveyed reported that they were very satisfied with the care they received from dental health aide therapists, and their satisfaction did not differ from satisfaction with the care provided by other dental practitioners.

Village residents stated that by having a health aide therapist that was based in the village improved access for dental emergencies.  As well the dental health aide therapists was able to also educated village residents,about the importance of preventive dental care.

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