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Economic Feasibility of Alternative Practitioners for Provision of Dental Care to the Underserved

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Journal of the California Dental Association

This study assesses the economic viability of three alternative practitioner types for the provision of dental care to the underserved: dental therapists, dental health aide therapists, and advanced dental hygiene practitioners. Key components modeled include compensation, training and practice costs, productivity, and payer mix scenarios. Two of the three types of dental therapists were found to be cost-effective for enhancing access. However, the article also included the finding that, to be sustainable, these practices would require a subsidy or better reimbursement than is modeled. Furthermore, without tuition support, the educational debt burden will deter those applicants most likely to treat the underserved.

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