Dental therapists are often found in rural settings or other places where there aren't many dentists. They offer affordable dental treatment where it is hard to find dental help. Their medical equivalent would be a medical assistant. Therapists can perform more services than a dental hygienist, but they can't do everything that a dentist can do.
Salaries by State
A sampling of the average salaries from various states shows that a dental therapist can expect to earn anywhere from £35,512 a year in Florida in 2010 to £46,463 a year in Arizona, according to SalaryExpert.com. States in the East, particularly the Southeast (Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina) tend to pay dental therapists the least. Western states like Colorado, Texas and Arizona are on the higher end of the pay range.
Salaries by City
Differences in pay by city show an even greater range of average salaries. Miami, Florida, dental therapists made an average of £31,556 a year in 2010 while the average pay in Phoenix, Arizona, was £46,751 a year, according to SalaryExpert.com. Other cities that pay more than £39,000 a year on average are: Houston, Texas ($61,201); New York, New York ($71,793); Atlanta, Georgia ($62,901); Charlotte, North Carolina ($62,719) and Indianapolis, Indiana ($68,467).
While dental therapists cannot perform a full range of dental services, they can fill cavities, provide instruction on oral hygiene, screen patients for oral cancer and do dietary evaluations. They are not required to work in a dentist's office, but a dentist will be responsible for overseeing their work. Given that they are needed in more rural areas, they may work from part-time clinics so that they can provide services over a larger area.
Minnesota was the first state to require that dental therapists be licensed, in 2009. This meant that dental therapists needed to meet educational requirements and pass an exam in order to practice in the state. The state licenses therapists as either dental therapists or advanced dental therapists. The licenses set the type of supervision the dental therapist works under and requires them to work in an area where there are not enough dentists.
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