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.
Tatiana BarracloughBased in St. Paul, AK
Employed by Aleutian Islands Pribilof Islands Association
“I was raised and grew up in Atka, out on the Aleutians and the Pribilof islands. My mother was a Community Health Aide, so she travelled a lot. Usually, I travelled with her when she moved from different communities. It is very difficult and expensive to travel out in the Aleutians, so many people choose to wait until a dentist decides to fly out before they get treatment. Most people cannot afford to pay for treatment from the two private dentists who live there — there are no IHS dentists. To be able to go home and provide basic care all the time is great. I am able able to help people before they need emergency treatment.”