We all deserve a healthy smile, no matter our race, where we live, or what insurance we can afford. But, because Washington state has a severe shortage of dental providers and dental care is so costly, people throughout the state are often forced to choose between meeting their basic needs or getting dental care. Left untreated, dental issues can lead to overall health complications and the need for tooth extractions.

For years, the Washington State Dental Association has used their influence to block dental therapy, an evidence-based model that would expand access to care for low-income and rural communities and communities of color.

Dental therapists work under the supervision of dentists to provide high-quality preventative dental care. The dental therapy model creates a more affordable pathway to quality employment in the healthcare field so that dental therapists can provide care to the community they grew up in. Right now they are authorized to provide care in twelve other states and on Tribal lands in Washington. We can’t keep waiting, we need dental therapy now!


Photo of Lily

Lily, a community member in Seattle, knows firsthand how difficult it is to find dental care when living on a low income. As she shared in an interview, she was unable to access routine dental care for years. Read the rest of Lily’s interview here.

What We’re Doing About It

Poverty Action supports boosting access to affordable and comprehensive dental care through the expansion of dental therapy statewide.

Illustrated graphic: dentist, dental assistant, community dental health coordinator, dental therapist, hygienist