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.
Stephanie WoodsBased in Kotzeube, AK
Employed by Maniilaq Association
I am a certified Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) that trained in New Zealand in 2003-2004, working for the Maniilaq Association since January of 2005. After doing a six-month preceptorship in Kotzebue, I moved to the village of Shungnak, where my husband is from, and practiced dentistry in the local clinic as well as frequent travel to other villages. In January 2009 I became the dental director for the department and moved to the region’s headquarters in Kotzeube. I currently work in the clinic 1-2 days a week and travel to one of the outlying villages for one week every other month to provide dental services. I have spoken in numerous states around the country including twice in Washington DC promoting the DHAT program. For the past eight years I’ve been on the Dental Academic Review Committee (DARC) that reviews the DHAT curriculum.