Improving the oral health of Alaska Natives by using rural outreach trips to gain support for the Dental Health Aide Therapist Program

Many of the over 80,000 Alaska Natives who live in remote villages have limited access to dental services and consequently suffer severely poor oral health. To address this situation, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) has developed the Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) program, a mid-level dentistry program that recruits Alaska Natives to train as dental health aide therapists (the highest category of dental health aide, certified to provide oral exams, preventive dental services, simple restorations, crowns and extractions). Since DHAT training is not available in the United States, ANTHC is negotiating with the University of Washington to develop a mid-level dental training program that would be provided in Alaska. A key barrier to the development of the training program is the significant opposition to mid-level dentistry among dental professionals. The purpose of this project is to defuse some of that opposition by taking two groups of dentists on educational outreach trips to Alaska, the first trip for a group of dentists from Washington State, the second for a more nationally representative group (to be selected with input from RWJF staff). It is hoped that the trips will give them an understanding of the setting and circumstances that have led to poor oral health among Alaska Natives and increase their support for the DHAT program. This project complements an active Foundation-supported Local Initiative Funding Partners Program program that supports ANTHC's dental health aide program.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $15,300.00

Awarded on: 9/14/2006

Time frame: 10/1/2006 - 6/30/2007

Grant Number: 58516


Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

4000 Ambassador Drive, Suite 441
Anchorage, 99508-5909


Ronald Nagel
Project Director