Vermont Dental Therapy Education Program Moves Forward

28 Jun 2017

Vermont Technical College is pleased to announce that its Dental Therapy Education program is off to a strong start. As the first dental therapy education provider in New England, Vermont Tech will create opportunities for dental therapy students from around the region and help the state increase access to high-quality, cost-effective routine dental care.

“Vermont Tech is positioned to increase the types of healthcare professionals working in Vermont, as well as providing additional career opportunities for our dental hygiene graduates,” said President Patricia Moulton.

Dental therapists are oral health care providers that work with dentists much like nurse practitioners work with physicians. A bill allowing them to practice in Vermont became law in June of 2016.

Hiring a program director to create and shepherd the new program through Vermont Tech’s governance processes, including a presentation to the Vermont State College Systems’ Board of Trustees, was the school’s first order of business.  Vermont Tech is pleased that Dr. Cheyanne Warren, working most recently as a staff General Dentist for The Health Center in Plainfield, VT, has agreed to take on this leadership role. In addition to developing the program, Dr. Warren will develop the curriculum and seek accreditation for the program from the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) the accrediting body for the College’s current dental hygiene programs. “I look forward to making the Dental Therapy program and curriculum a reality. The momentum has been strong which has helped me hit the ground running,” says the new director.

“We’ve been proud to support Vermont Technical College as it prepares to educate the state’s dental therapists,” said Kathy Reincke, Director of Communications with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Vermont is a leader in making sure dental therapists can help get dental care to children and families who need it most, in their own communities. This is a great example of a community that saw a need to improve access to oral health care and took the steps to make it happen.”

Since passing legislation allowing dental therapists to practice, Vermont has made substantial progress toward getting dental therapists working in communities. Most recently, the Board of Dental Examiners, which is responsible for the regulations overseeing all dental practitioners in the state, began developing rules for licensing dental therapists. The rules will lay out the steps a graduate of an accredited dental therapy education program will need to follow in order to become a licensed dental therapist in Vermont; and how to keep that license in good standing throughout their career.  In addition, the Board is working toward establishing rules that would allow dental therapists from other states to practice in Vermont.

“With significant steps being taken that advance dental therapy practice in the state, Vermont is well on its way to providing access to dental care for the tens of thousands of Vermonters without it as well as improving the distribution of care around the state,” said Moulton.