Dental Health Aide Therapists have changed the course of oral health for Alaska Native people. More than 40,000 rural Alaskans now have regular access to dental care from a DHAT. Many rural Alaskans have never had this kind of access or continuity of care before.
In 2004, a group of Alaska Native students returned from training in New Zealand and became Alaska’s first Dental Health Aide Therapists. In response to a need for regular oral health care in the Alaska Tribal Health System, DHATs were pioneers in providing access to mid-level dental care and prevention services for Alaska Native people living in rural communities across the state.
In addition to expanding care in Alaska, the ADTEP also supports expanding dental care in Tribal communities across the United States. Since 2015, 13 students representing Tribes from the Pacific Northwest have enrolled in the program. In 2016, the first Alaska educated DHAT was hired by the Swinomish Tribe in Washington to assist their dental team in meeting the overwhelming oral health care needs of their tribal members.
Alaska’s DHAT’s and ANTHC’s Alaska Dental Therapy Educational Program are recognized as the model of success for improving oral health and access to care for rural populations around the world.
ANTHC partners with the Iḷisaġvik Tribal College and offers an Associate’s Degree in Dental Therapy. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico passed legislation and approved DHAT Programs in their states. ANTHC also provides DHAT Educational opportunities for First Nations students from Canada under the Jay Treaty.
Alaska Dental Therapy Educational Program
In August 2020, the Alaska Dental Therapy Educational Program became the first dental therapy program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation! The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United Stated Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60611. The Commission’s web address is: http://www.ada.org/en/coda.