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Senator Barto wants to bring dental therapists to Arizona

A bill that would authorize dental therapists in Arizona is under consideration in the state’s Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.

The committee, chaired by state Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix), heard testimony on Senate Bill 1377 (S.B. 1377) on February 7.

Dental therapists are similar to primary-care nurse practitioners, providing a limited set of services. A dental therapist operates under the supervision of a licensed dentist to perform basic dental treatment and preventive services.

Currently, Arizona law prohibits anyone except licensed dentists from performing dentistry, restricting the supply of oral health care in the state.Concerned About Dental Shortages

Barto, S.B. 1377’s sponsor, says Arizona is experiencing a health care crisis.

“The value of having a dental therapist in a dentist’s practice is to extend the ability for care to people in need of it,” Barto said. “Arizona is one of those states, like many, that has areas with dental shortages. For example, in Scottsdale, which everybody knows is not exactly a poor area of the state, there are 481 dentists serving a population of about 242,700 people, in a geographic area of 184 square miles.

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