New kind of dental profession slowly takes root - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New kind of dental profession slowly takes root

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A new kind of dental profession is slowly taking root in parts of Minnesota where dentists are scarce.

Minnesota has licensed 28 dental therapists over the past two years. They perform many basic procedures that previously only a dentist could do. Minnesota Public Radio reports they work in places where dentists won't go, or take the place of dentists unwilling to accept Medicaid's low payments.

Dental therapists can't work in Minnesota without a dentist's supervision. That's made it challenging for some to find work. Many dentists opposed the 2009 legislation that created the dental therapy profession, and some of those dentists haven't changed their minds about the need for these mid-level practitioners.

So far, safety-net providers have been some of the profession's biggest supporters.

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