A new report by a group that funds training and promotion of dental therapists says the midlevel practitioners worldwide offer safe, competent care in locations with rare access to dentists.
The report released Tuesday by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation details a review of more than 1,100 reports on dental therapists in 54 countries, including the United States.
In the U.S., only Alaska and Minnesota allow dental therapists to perform such work as extracting teeth and filling cavities. Foundation officials say more than a dozen other states are exploring the idea.
Opponents of dental therapists include the American Dental Association, which says irreversible procedures should be done only by licensed dentists.
The ADA says the new report appears to be an "advocacy document intended to support a predetermined conclusion."