Some truths aren’t necessarily good — but they’re hard to ignore. For example, Americans have bad teeth and gums. Period. There’s no way around it. Nearly all American adults have at least one cavity (and most have several), gum disease is more rampant than ever before, and dental conditions even cause chronic halitosis in 85% of people suffering from tooth decay, periodontal disease, and more. What can be done? How are family dentists and urgent dental care clinics striving to improve access to standard dental procedures and cosmetic dental work?
Introducing Dental Therapists
More affordable dentists, including pediatric dentists and cosmetic dentists, are hiring dental therapists to help treat as many patients as possible — and as efficiently as possible, too. What is a dental therapist? Dental therapists aren’t there to coax patients about their dental anxieties or fears (the clinical term is odontophobia), or even to listen to their childhood problems. Dental therapists, in fact, are much like dental assistants. They can safely perform routine procedures, and the extent of the dental work — whether it’s general dentistry or cosmetic dental work — they are able to take part in is highly dependent on their training. Dental therapists often train in the very same room as aspiring dentists as well.
Dentists Vs. Dental Therapists: What Is The Difference?
Dental therapists’ training isn’t necessarily as comprehensive. Most focus on a certain area or up to a certain point of dentistry. They are cheaper to train and employee, but they generally can’t do everything dentists can. Of course, dentists aren’t going to let dental therapists place dental implants if they are not qualified. (Although dental implants can be a relatively easy in-and-out procedure, they may also take six to 12 weeks to fully heal and proper measurement and placement is critical.)
Are dental therapists the answer? Some dental practices believe that the ability to hire more people — people who can perform cleanings and routine fillings, for example — will vastly improve dental care.