Summary Box: Dental therapists training in Minn.

AP News
Posted: Dec 26, 2009 2:32 PM

NEW ON THE SCENE: Dental therapists are a regular part of dental care in Canada, Europe and New Zealand, but Minnesota will be the first state to license them in the United States.

MORE THAN A HYGIENIST: Unlike hygienists, dental therapists will be able to drill into teeth and do other simple invasive procedures while under the supervision of a dentist.

TOTALLY NEW?: Well, no. Physician's assistants are an example of another new midlevel health practitioner that's become accepted by the medical establishment.

WHY NOW: Limited access to dental care is a big problem in rural America and poor urban areas. Supporters say dental therapists provide those areas with low-cost care.