Dental Therapy in Arizona

Governor Doug Ducey signed the Dental Therapy bill, HB2235, into law on May 16, 2018, creating the licensing and regulatory structure to allow Dental Therapists to practice in the state of Arizona. Practice is limited to tribal communities, federally qualified healthcare centers (and look a likes), nonprofit dental clinics and private dental practices that contract with federally qualified health centers.
Dental Therapists are mid-level dental care providers, equivalent to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, which work primarily under the supervision and collaborative practice of a licensed dentist. Dental Therapists are able to fill cavities, place temporary crowns, and perform uncomplicated tooth extractions along with providing patient education.

Dental Therapy was first developed in New Zealand in the 1920s, and gained momentum in United States in 2004 from Alaskan Native communities as a means to provide preventative and routine restorative care to their geographically isolated and underserved communities. Since 2004, dental therapists (known in Alaska as Dental Health Aide Therapists) have been successfully providing effective, innovative and culturally competent dental care to Alaskan Native communities.

As more and more states authorize dental therapy, Arizona continues through the implementation process. The Board of Dental Examiners is completing the Rules process which will be followed by review by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council. University and community college dental hygiene training programs are looking at expanding their training programs to include dental therapy.