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.
Bonnie JohnsonBased in Emmonak, AK
Employed by Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
“I was raised in a village that did not receive consistent dental care. Dental providers would come and go. Unfortunately, there were villages that did not receive any dental care. Now, I am a Dental Health Aide Therapist who is able to provide much needed dental care to 4 villages on the Yukon Delta. I am able to educate many that had little or no knowledge of the importance of good oral hygiene. The majority of the children were fearful of dental because they usually had experienced the trauma of having teeth extracted in a papoose board. Now that I have been stationed in the Emmonak sub-region for over a year, children anticipate a fun dental visit. I am proud to provide preventive and basic restorative dental care to rural Alaska.”