Alaska dental programme praised

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An independent evaluation has praised a rural dental scheme in Alaska, it has been revealed.

The programme, which has been developed to improve access to dentists and raise standards of dental care in rural areas, is being piloted in Alaska and could become a national model if successful. According to a press release sent out by the W.K.Kellogg Foundation, the pilot scheme has been well received by both professionals and patients in Alaska and is achieving great success.

The evaluation study, which was carried out by RTI International, found that dental therapists participating in the scheme were working well within the community and were able to provide care to many patients and deliver more complex procedures under the supervision of dentists. The study also revealed that patient satisfaction was very high.

Jerry Drake, executive director of the Bethel Community Services Foundation, said that the findings of the study are very important to dental therapists and patients across the state. The results show that the Dental Health Aide Therapist programme is working well and has the potential to make a positive difference to standards of oral health across the nation. In Alaska, standards of oral health are amongst the lowest in America; rates of oral disease are comparatively high and a large proportion of children suffer from tooth decay.

The Alaska model demonstrates that dental therapists can make a huge difference to oral health and improve access to oral healthcare for local people. It remains to be seen whether the programme will be introduced in other states.

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