North Dakotans for Dental Access
North Dakotans for Dental Access News

The importance of rural health in North Dakota

Celebrating the importance of rural health
Rural communities face unique challenges when trying to access dental care.  For instance, rural residents often live further from dental providers and are less likely to have dental insurance. Across North Dakota, 376,000 people live in rural communities. In order to highlight this issue, Gov. Jack Dalrymple has declared Thursday, November 17, Rural Health Day. In his proclamation, the governor reaffirms the importance of addressing the constantly evolving needs of rural communities when it comes to accessibility issues, a lack of healthcare providers and an aging population. Gov. Dalrymple also highlighted the critical role that the Center for Rural Health at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences plays in “leading efforts to address the unique healthcare needs of our rural citizens.” A recent fact sheet by the Center for Rural Health highlights the lack of dentists in many counties across our state.
‘Now I can restore a smile’: Dental therapist in rural Minnesota explains why her profession fills a need
In 2009, Minnesota became the first state to allow dentists to hire dental therapists to help meet the oral health needs of underserved communities, including rural areas. Brandi Tweeter is a dental therapist currently practicing in Montevideo, a community of roughly 5,300 people in rural southwestern Minnesota. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently published a feature on how Brandi’s work and dental therapists are serving rural communities.
Rural Minnesota dentists adding dental therapists to their staff and service
When a rural healthcare provider adds to their staff, it often makes big difference in the community and region. For example, the Post Bulletin newspaper, which serves southeastern Minnesota, recently published an article on how a local dentist there is expanding dental services to more people in her community. The article reports that Herman Dental, located in a community of roughly 2,800 people, recently hired a dental therapist. That dental therapist likens her role “to being a physician assistant or nurse practitioner” and is allowing her supervising dentist’s practice to expand service to “those with limited access to dental care or are on the state dental insurance program.”
Bringing routine dental care to rural Alaska
A recent article in the Alaska Dispatch News speaks to the success of adding dental therapists to the oral health care team in that state’s tribal communities. The dental therapist program started in 2003 to “bridge the gap between availability of dentists and help rural Alaska Native residents maintain consistent, reliable dental care.” To read more about this program, click here or search for DHAT Alaska online

Copyright ©2023 North Dakotans for Dental Access