Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the perspectives of board certified pediatric dentists regarding adding a pediatric oral health therapist/dental therapist to the dental team.
Methods: A 27-item online survey was e-mailed to all diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry Questions assessed knowledge and opinions regarding the concept of a pediatric oral health therapist, as well as perspectives on the parameters under which such a person could practice. Survey results were tabulated and frequency distributions calculated.
Results: Seventy-five percent of respondents had limited or no knowledge regarding the concept of a pediatric oral health therapist; 79% had limited or no knowledge regarding the use of dental therapists in Alaska. Seventy-one percent disagreed with adding a therapist to the dental team. Pediatric dentists practicing in the public sector were more knowledgeable and supportive. Sixty-six percent indicated they treated children with Medicaid/CHIP insurance. Of those, most disagreed that therapists would enable them to care far more children.
Conclusions: Pediatric dentists are generally not knowledgeable regarding the role of therapists internationally Nevertheless, the majority oppose adding such an individual to the dental team in the United States.