Launched in 2007 as a collaborative effort between the Alaska Native Tribal Health Center and the University of Washington, DENTEX was developed to meet the oral health needs of native Alaskan people across 200 remote villages. Students enter a 24-month program as Dental Health Aide Therapists to learn prevention services, fillings, and uncomplicated extractions while working under supervising dentists. Year 1 is classroom instruction in Anchorage. In year 2 the trainees transfer to Bethel Alaska for supervised hands-on clinical experience with local patients. Currently, nearly 40,000 Alaska Native people living in rural Alaska now have improved access to regular dental care by more than two dozen federally certified DHATs.
Eliza EphankaBethel, AK
“I’ve lived in Bethel all my life. All my younger children received services at the Dental Health Aide program. Before this clinic we never received any dental services. It was so hard to get an appointment with a dentist. We’d call every Monday. Sometimes they’d tell us to call next week. My first dental experience was scary. I was 6 or 7 years, going to the dentist for a toothache. After that I suffered with toothaches before going back to see the dentist. It’s easier for me to communicate with the Dental Health Aides here as they are local.”