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dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Fall Update 2022

What is a Dental Therapist (DT)? What is Dental Therapy?

A dental therapist is a primary oral healthcare professional who provides basic clinical dental treatment and prevention services under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

For more in-depth information, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (SITC) created videos that showcase the tribe’s origin story and journey of bringing dental therapy to the lower 48 states.

Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) has created a formal e-learning course, “Optimizing Dental Teams with Dental Therapists,” which is free, self-paced, and provides 3 continuing education credits. Access course here: https://dentaltherapy-ohlh.talentlms.com/catalog/info/id:151,cms_featured_course:1

National Partnership for Dental Therapy: dentaltherapy.org

Dental therapists are delivering oral health care to thousands of people in the United States who otherwise would not be able to receive it. But not everyone has the opportunity to see a dental therapist. Co-chaired by Community Catalyst, the National Indian Health Board and the National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity, the goal of the National Partnership for Dental Therapy is to elevate the visibility and broad, multi-sectorial support for dental therapy as an evidence-based way to improve access to oral health.

How do I apply to dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program?

Complete an Inquiry Form on skagit.edu/request-information/ in its entirety and Submit.

NOTE: Under Program Information section and Primary Program of Interest drop down, choose Dental Therapy Program.

How many students will be accepted per cohort each year?

Each Fall a cohort of a maximum of 12 students is accepted.

Is dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program only for native individuals?

No. However, legislation in Washington State currently limits the practice of dental therapy services to tribal lands. For this reason, ideal Washington State candidates should have a clinic affiliation agreement (refer to What is a Clinic Affiliation Agreement…? question below) with a native tribe dental clinic.  For all other ideal candidates, refer to your state’s dental therapy legislation to confirm where dental therapist are allowed to practice.

Is dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program accredited?

Skagit Valley College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. (As of August 29, 2022)

The program in dental therapy is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of “initial accreditation”. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission’s web address is: https://coda.ada.org/en.

What is CODA and why is being CODA accredited important?

CODA stands for Commission on Dental Accreditation.  CODA was established in 1975 and is nationally recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) as the sole agency to accredit dental and dental-related education programs conducted at the post-secondary level. CODA’s mission is to serve the oral health care needs of the public through the development and administration of standards that foster continuous quality improvement of dental and dental related educational programs.  The Commission on Dental Accreditation accredits dental schools and programs including advanced dental education programs and allied dental education programs in the United States.  Graduation from a program that has been accredited by CODA is a requirement for dental therapy licensure in many states.

What other Dental Therapy (DT) education programs are available in the United States?
There are currently five (5) dental therapy programs in the United States: one in Alaska, one in Washington, and three in Minnesota. Two of these programs are CODA accredited.

  • Ilisagvik Dental Therapy Program in Alaska (CODA Accredited)
  • Skagit Valley Dental Therapy Program in Washington (CODA accredited)
  • University of Minnesota School of Dentistry Dental Therapy Program
  • Metro State University Master of Science in Advanced Dental Therapy
  • Minnesota State University Master of Science in Advanced Dental Therapy
Why is the Dental Therapy Program so expensive?

dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program trains and graduates a mid-level provider. Educating a dental provider is expensive: overhead costs of specialized equipment and supplies, salaries of dental subject matter expert instructors, and support training services. The long-term investment pays off as an economic driver within the community, modeling of underrepresented professionals, and maximizing an oral health care team. A sample Cost of Attendance (COA) information sheet is available upon request.

How is often is tuition billed? Why types of funds can cover program costs?

Tuition is billed quarterly. Program costs can be covered by scholarships, grants, financial aid, and/or self-pay.

What is a Clinic Affiliation Agreement and is it required for admissions into dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program?

The last quarter of dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program is a 14-week preceptorship. An interested candidate will need to submit a signed Clinic Affiliation Agreement as part of the dental therapy admissions process. A Clinic Affiliation Agreement identifies a dental clinic that will provide the proper clinical environment to train said DT student for 14 weeks in accordance to precepting requirements under the supervision of a calibrated dentist. The Clinic Affiliation Agreement will showcase there is adequate space, support staff, and resources at the precepting dental clinic site in preparation for a DT student to gain the necessary clinical experience. Having a signed Clinic Affiliation Agreement does not guarantee acceptance into dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program. It displays a candidate will be able to compete the required Qtr. 9 – Preceptorship.

dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program will provide pertinent information on how to setup a clinic in preparation for a DT student and calibration training for the supervising dentist prior to Qtr. 9. The dental clinic identified in the Clinic Affiliation Agreement will be solely responsible for all associated travel costs for training session(s).

Download Clinic Affiliation Agreement

Do I have to work at the clinic I completed my 14-week preceptorship?

It depends on what agreement(s) exist between you and the clinic affiliated site.

In general, a state’s dental therapy legislation will dictate where a dental therapist can work. In Washington State, for instance, you can only work in clinics on tribal land. In Minnesota, you can work in a dental clinic seeking to hire a dental therapist as part of their dental team.

dəxʷx̌ayəbus-Dental Therapy Program contact information:

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 360.416.7652

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