Dental Therapy

The Profession

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Who They Are

A dental therapist is a licensed oral health professional who practices as part of the dental team to provide educational, clinical and therapeutic patient services.

What They Do

Dental therapists provide basic preventative and restorative treatment to children and adults, as well as extractions of baby teeth under the supervision of a dentist. They primarily work with low-income, uninsured and underserved populations or in a dental health professional shortage area.

Where They Work

Dental therapists must work under the supervision of a licensed dentist. BEcause of this, most dental therapists work in the offices of dentists. Others may work in the offices of physicians or for the government. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)


The outlook for dental therapists is projected to increase much faster than average. In the next ten years, the number of dental therapy jobs is supposed to increase by 11%. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Practicing dental therapists must obtain a Master’s Degree in Dental Therapy. A list of schools that offer Master’s Degrees in Dental Therapy or Dental Hygiene can be found here. At the University of Minnesota, Dental Therapy is offered as a dual Bachelor of Science Dental Hygiene/Master of Dental Therapy degree and takes about three years to complete. More information about the dual degree program can be found here.

In Minnesota, there are two types of dental therapists: Dental Therapists (DT) and Advanced Dental Therapists (ADT). The scope of practice of these two professionals are very similar. The main difference between the two professions is that a dentist does not need to see the patient or be on site for an ADT to perform a procedure. 

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