This week Governor Shumlin signed S.20 into law, making Vermont the fourth state in the nation to allow dental therapists to provide dental care.
Dental therapists will be licensed Vermont hygienists with additional education and training, so that they can offer some of the most needed dental procedures such as fillings and simple extractions.
Governor Shumlin was joined by legislators, advocates, and dental professionals to sign the bill into law at the Williston campus of Vermont Technical College (VTC). VTC will be expanding their dental hygiene program to train dental therapists. After receiving their dental hygiene license, hygienists will be able to graduate from the program with a bachelors degree and the opportunity to be certified as a dental therapist. And, students are already lining up to be part of the program! VTC is in the process of receiving accreditation for their new dental therapy program, and hope to be training new students within a year.
The Oral Health Care for All Coalition has been working for over a half a decade to bring this proven solution to Vermont, and it is already in place in Alaska, Minnesota, and more than 50 countries around the world. In Minnesota where dental therapists have been working with patients for five years, more underserved populations are receiving care, and patients are experiencing reduced wait and travel times.
As Governor Shumlin noted,
“This is important because there’s a direct connection between oral health and overall health. Having dental therapists available to work with dentists and hygienists will make it easier for Vermonters to get the care they need, closer to home and no matter what type of insurance they have.”