Examining Whether Dental Therapists Constitute a Disruptive Innovation in US Dentistry

ArticleinAmerican Journal of Public Health 101(10):1831-5 · August 2011with3 Reads
Impact Factor: 4.55 · DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300235 · Source: PubMed


    Dental therapists-midlevel dental providers who are roughly analogous to nurse practitioners in medicine-might constitute a disruptive innovation within US dentistry. Proponents tend to claim that dental therapists will provide more equitable access to dental care; opponents tend to view them from a perspective that focuses on retaining the current attributes of the dental profession. Therapists display traits similar to those of disruptive innovations: their attributes are different from dentists', they may not initially be valued by current dental patients, they may appeal to current dental underutilizers, and they may transform the dental delivery system. Whether dental therapists constitute a disruptive innovation will only be determined retrospectively.