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.
Savannah BonordenFrom Sitka,AK
Employed by Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
“Alaska is a big state and access can be difficult especially with the conditions of weather or with the expensive of travel. So having a DHAT placed in a village setting is both rewarding and beneficial for the people. I see the dental therapists as a new mainstream for dental prevention, working together as a team with all occupations of the dental field. We’re a new kind of provider, a profession that has so much promise to the future of oral health. I see all the smiles and gratitude the patients have for the services we provide and I’m proud to be here helping. It warms my heart and gives me the sense that I’m doing something right.”