Dental Health Aides Therapists: ANTHC’s Tribal solution for Alaska’s dental care crisis

January 17, 2019

As part of a community-driven solution, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium introduced the first successful dental therapist workforce in the United States in 2004. Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHATs) provide culturally appropriate dental education and routine dental services in Alaska Native communities, usually their home village, within the scope of their training.

The program was recently profiled by Do Something Awesome, a film storytelling project of WorkingNation, to showcase unique solutions in workforce development across the U.S. The article and video are available online here: “Service With a Smile: Alaska’s solution for America’s dental care crisis.”

DHATs make important improvements in oral health for Alaska Native people in rural areas of our state. This model of dental care increases preventative care that help reduce high levels of cavities and other dental issues that lead to oral diseases.

Since 2004, they have expanded much-needed access to dental care and prevention services for more than 40,000 Alaska Native people living in 81 rural Alaska communities. DHATs are a solution to a shortage of trained dentists in remote locations, where medical and transport expenses to dental care hub clinics can cost Tribal communities millions of dollars.

The training program also has a partnership with Ilisagvik Tribal College, where students can now earn an associate degree in Dental Therapy.

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