Vermont Tech Lays Groundwork for Dental Therapy Programs

16 May 2016

Vermont Technical College is laying out the groundwork for students to become dental therapists.

It’s a new position in Vermont, which aims to provide services to more patients.

[View the feature on the My Champlain Valley website.]

The Vermont legislature passed a bill this session to license dental therapists.

It’s a mid-level provider position with many Vermonters eager to give it a try.

The college currently has a draft curriculum for the dental therapy program.

“Our first step is going to be to hire a dentist or a dental therapist to be the program director of this new dental therapy program,” says Dental Hygiene Program Director, Ellen Grimes.

A dental therapist is able to drill and fill some teeth.

It’s a mid-level provider, meaning it can provide services in between a dentist and a dental hygienist who focuses on cleaning and prevention education.

“My job essentially right now as a hygienist is to provide preventative care, this would allow you to provide restorative care,” registered dental hygienist, Katie Comeau.

Many dental hygienists are eager to enroll in the program, which will hopefully provide more services to more patients, especially those on Medicaid.

“The dental office doesn’t have to pay as much as they would a full fledge dentist to do some of these services. We’re hopeful that dentist will hire these dental therapist and take more Medicaid patients,” says Ellen Grimes.

States including Minnesota have already licensed dental therapists.

“It’s a great opportunity for hygienists, a great opportunity for Vermont, I’m anxious for the program to start,” says Katie Comeau.

At Vermont Technical College, hygienists would need to enroll in the program for one full year to earn a Bachelorette degree as a dental therapist.

“We’re going to start the search hopefully in the next week or two, find that program director, that program director will put together the final curriculum,” says Grimes.

The final curriculum will have to be approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation for approval, which will take about a year and a half.

“I would want to do it because it’s a great opportunity to further your education and it’s an opportunity to provide more services to patients.”

Vermont Technical College currently offers a 3 year program to become a dental hygienist, training you need to become a dental therapist.