Oral Health Provider Perceptions of Dental Therapists and Oral Health Equity in the Southeastern United States

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Purpose: A growing need for oral health care is challenged by the maldistribution of oral health providers and lack of opportunity to access oral health care in the current system among underserved populations. Emerging workforce models, such as dental therapists, is one option for improving oral health equity and promoting access across racial/ethnic and socio-demographic groups while addressing those who suffer from disparate lack of access. The purpose of this study is to investigate existing dental workforce perspectives in several southeastern states about emerging workforce models, specifically dental therapists, as a first step in moving toward workforce diversity and oral health equity. underserved was given scant attention. These findings raise serious concerns as to whether dentists will become collaborative with other sectors of society to remedy the social policies that lead to oral health disparities and are willing to address the inequitable pain and suffering among those without access to oral health care.

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