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J Dent Educ. 2012 Aug;76(8):1092-101.

Influence of private practice employment of dental therapists in Saskatchewan on the future supply of dental therapists in Canada.

Author information

1
Community Dentistry and Public Health, College of Dentistry, University of Saskatchewan, 331 DC, 105 Wiggins Road, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5E4, Canada. gerry.uswak@usask.ca

Abstract

The profession of dental therapy has long been held up as a model for reducing access to care barriers in high-risk, underserved populations worldwide. Dental therapists practice in many countries delivering preventive and basic restorative care to children and adults. In North America, dental therapy education and practice date back to 1972 with the establishment of training programs at the National School of Dental Therapy in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, and the Wascana Institute of Applied Arts and Science in Regina, Saskatchewan, as a means of reducing access to care barriers in Canada's northern territories and to implement the Saskatchewan Health Dental Plan, respectively. At present, dental therapy in North America has reached a crossroads: in the United States, the profession is cautiously being explored as a solution for improving access to care in at-risk populations. In 2011, Canada's sole training program, the National School of Dental Therapy in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, closed when the federal government eliminated its funding. This article examines the impact of private practice employment of dental therapists in Saskatchewan on the supply of dental therapist human resources for health in Canada's three northern territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon), its role in the closure of the National School of Dental Therapy in 2011, and ramifications for the future of dental therapy in Canada.

PMID:
22855596
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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