AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) It can be hard to keep smiles healthy in rural areas, where dentists are few and far between and residents often are poor and lack dental coverage. Efforts to remedy the problem have produced varying degrees of success.
The biggest obstacle? Dentists.
Dozens of countries, such as New Zealand, use dental therapists a step below a dentist, similar to a physicians assistant or a nurse practitioner to bring basic dental care to remote areas, often tribal reservations. But in the U.S., dentists and their powerful lobby have battled legislatures for years on the drive to allow therapists to practice.
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