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New Scholarship Opportunity Announced for Aspiring Dental Therapists in Michigan

Qualified candidates interested in pursuing education in dental therapy can now apply for a unique scholarship opportunity thanks to the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA), the Delta Dental Foundation (DDF) and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Health Fund).

Dental therapy is a long-awaited oral health profession recently added to Michigan’s oral health workforce to improve access to care within dentist shortage areas. Dental therapists are licensed providers that work under the remote supervision of a dentist to provide services such oral health assessments, cleanings, basic restorations and some extractions.

For complete eligibility requirements and scholarship application, please visit the MPCA Dental Therapy Scholarship program webpage for more information.

MPCA chief executive officer Phillip Bergquist said: “Dental therapists will improve health centers’ ability to carry out their missions to improve access to care for Michigan’s most vulnerable populations.

“The MPCA Dental Therapy Scholarship program will support a new oral health career option for individuals who are driven to serve communities in dental health professional shortage areas,” he stated. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support aspiring Michigan dental therapists through the scholarship program.”

“No Michigan college or university has an accredited dental therapy program yet,” added Holli Seabury, EdD, executive director of the DDF. “Until that happens, if we want dental therapy to succeed in Michigan, it’s on us to make it happen.”

The MPCA Dental Therapy Scholarship program will support the educational journeys of dental therapy students who plan to practice in Michigan upon graduation. These students will be recognized as trailblazers for Michigan’s dental therapy profession, and they will usher in a new model of accessible, high-quality care for systemically disadvantaged communities.

"Good oral health starts at home, and for the Health Fund that means strengthening the workforce in our own backyard,” says Laurie Solotorow, director of Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles, at the Health Fund. “We're proud to partner with the Delta Dental Foundation and MPCA to invest in dental therapists who want to serve their own communities and provide access to oral healthcare in underserved areas of the state."

Qualified candidates may apply for up to $15,000 for each semester they are enrolled in a U.S. dental therapy program and must practice in Michigan for up to 36 months upon graduation. Scholarship applications will open on April 17 and close on May 12, 2023.

MPCA advocates to influence and advance health policy in Lansing and Washington, D.C., foster collaboration among our 44 health centers and with external partners, and support health centers in the continuous pursuit of high-quality, patient-centered services. As a fierce voice for members, our vision is equitable and just healthcare for all. Visit us online for more information.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund’s mission is to improve the health of Michigan residents, with special emphasis on the health and wellness of children and seniors, while reducing the cost of health care. Please visit the Health Fund website for more information.

The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and North Carolina. DDF is dedicated to developing and enhancing partnerships and programs to improve oral and overall health and health equity. For more information, visit

No Medicaid Cuts Sign-On Letter

Medicaid is a critical program in supporting the health and well-being of millions of families in America. About 230 organizations, including the ADTA and Families USA, submitted a letter to Congressional Leadership in support of Medicaid and to express our united opposition to any proposals to cut Medicaid funding as part of upcoming negotiations over the federal budget, debt limit, or any other legislative priorities.

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Washington State Senate Passes Dental Therapy Bill ESHB 1678

On Tuesday, April 11, 2023, the Washington State Senate announced the final vote supporting Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 1678. Sponsored by the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness, the bill passed the House on March 4, 2023, with 53 yeas, 42 nays. The bill proceeded to the Senate where it worked its way through a public hearing, reviews by the Rules Committee, and a final vote resulting in 30 yeas, 19 nays. To view a summary of the bill, including license requirements, the scope of practice, the practice plan contract, and other provisions, click here.

Bill highlights include:

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Forging New Territory

Four months after graduating with a bachelor’s in dental hygiene and a master’s in dental therapy, Claire Roesler moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Bangor, Maine, where she joined Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) as its first dental therapist. As a result, Claire has the esteemed designation of being the first dental therapist to work in the State of Maine. The state adopted legislation in 2014 recognizing dental therapy as a profession; however, the legislation had to be amended in 2019 to allow dental therapists to practice.

Like all new paths being forged, there were certainly bumps along the way. Claire spent the first four months performing hygienist work while PCHC negotiated a collaborative management agreement with a clear scope of work to practice as a dental therapist. During her first year, Claire advocated extensively for dental therapy in Maine. 

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How is a dental therapist different from a dentist?

By Sarah Chagnon, ADTA President, Dental Therapist, Swinomish Dental Clinic 

Dental therapists can fill/restore any part of the tooth as long as the tooth does not need treatment to the nerve. We use all the same materials a dentist would use. 

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American Dental Therapy Association Joins National Partnership for Dental Therapy as Co-Chair


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Q&A with ADTA Board President, Sarah Chagnon

What sparked your interest in becoming a dental therapist?

I went in for a dental cleaning and check-up. I told the dentist I had just gotten my associate's degree and was accepted into nursing school. Dr. Dailey encouraged me to shadow a dental therapist who worked at the clinic and recommended that I consider dental therapy instead of nursing school. That night I went home and googled dental therapy and was fascinated by the concept of a mid-level provider. I called the clinic the next day, and job shadowed Daniel Kennedy, the first dental therapist from Alaska to work in Washington State. After watching him for 30 seconds, I knew dental therapy was what I wanted to do. Five months later, I packed up my entire house and took a five-day ferry to Alaska and became a student of the Alaska Dental Therapy Education Program.  

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The ADTA Celebrates Newly Licensed Board Members

The ADTA congratulates board members, Immediate Past President Kari Ann Kuntzelman, and Treasurer Mark Kobylinsky on becoming newly licensed dental therapists in the State of Oregon.

Kuntzelman, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, moved to Alaska in 2017 to attend the Alaska Dental Therapy Education Program (ADTEP). Upon graduating from the program, she returned home to her urban community in Portland, Oregon, to give back to her people, and join the efforts to end oral health inequity. In 2019, Kuntzelman graduated from the ADTEP Program and worked under Dental Pilot Project #100 in the State of Oregon at the Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA) for two and a half years. In April 2022, she joined the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board as a Dental Health Aide Education Specialist, advocating for dental therapists and other levels of dental health aides. On January 5th, 2023, Kuntzelman became the 11th licensed dental therapist in the State of Oregon.

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