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New Mexicans Deserve Access to Quality, Affordable Dental Care


New Mexico is facing an oral health crisis. More than half of our state’s residents have advanced gum disease -- the highest percentage of any state in the country. One out of three of our state’s third graders have untreated dental disease which can cause unnecessary suffering and pain for these kids.

Oral disease can lead to serious, expensive health conditions if it is left untreated, including heart disease, blood clots, brain infections and diabetes. Many times, people struggling with dental problems end up in the emergency room, costing the state money. These problems can be prevented if people have regular access to routine and preventative dental care.

Unfortunately, access to quality dental care is a major problem in New Mexico.  There are dentist shortages in almost every county in our state.

The good news is that there is a cost-effective, scalable solution to our state’s oral health crisis: DENTAL THERAPISTS.

Dental therapists are highly trained mid-level professionals on the dentist-led team who can perform routine and preventative services in a role similar to that of physician assistants in medicine. Dental therapists are increasing access to preventative dental care in other states, including Alaska and Minnesota.

Our state legislature came very close to passing a dental therapy bill in the 2017 session. The bill was developed through a first-of-its-kind collaboration between public health advocates, dental hygienists, and dentists.  It had bipartisan support from policymakers and widespread support across the state.

The momentum and support behind dental therapy has continued to grow in New Mexico. We encourage the State Legislature to take action in the next session to end New Mexico’s oral health care crisis now.


About the New Mexico Dental Therapist Coalition

Our coalition is working to end the oral health care crisis in New Mexico by supporting the addition of dental therapists to the dental team.  Our members include:

NM State Legislative Health & Human Services Committee – Endorsed dental therapist legislation (Nov ’12, Dec’13, July’14). and Indian Affairs Cmte. (Sept’14)

AARP New Mexico

Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board (AAIHB)

Alta Mira Family Services, Inc.

Americans for Indian Opportunity

Center for Civic Policy

Center for Native American Youth

Centro Sávila

Community Dental Services, Inc. - ABQ

Concilio CDS, Inc. – Las Cruces

Dental Care in Your Home, Inc.

Des Moines School Health Advisory Council

Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council

Elev8 NM

El Pueblo Health Services - Bernalillo

Family Promise of ABQ Interfaith Worker Justice

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of New Mexico

Native American Professional Parent Resources, Inc. (NAPPR)

Native Health Initiative

Navajo Nation – wants dental therapists in their community

Nizhoni Smiles Dental Clinic – Shiprock

Northern New Mexico College – Española

NM Alliance for Retired Americans

NM Alliance for School- Based Health Care

NM American Federation of Teachers Retirees

NM Center on Law & Poverty

NM Conference of Churches

NM Dental Hygienists’ Association

NM Health Resources

NM Intertribal Community Services Council (NMITCC)

NM League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

NM Public Health Association (NMPHA) (2011,’13,’14,’15)

NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

NM Telehealth Alliance NM Voices for Children OLE NM

Pew Foundation

Place Matters

Pueblo of Kewa/Santo Domingo Health Board -

wants dental therapists in their community.

Pueblo of Tesuque RESULTS - Santa Fe

Rio Arriba Community Health Council

Rio Arriba County Health & Human Services

Santa Fe Community College

Southwest Women’s Law Center

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI)

Ten Southern Pueblo Governors Association

Tierra del Sol – Las Cruces

Union County Network wants dental therapists in their community – Clayton

Union County General Hospital

Union County Health Alliance

Women’s Intercultural Center – Anthony

YDI-Elev8 (Youth Devlp. Inc.)

William H. Johnson, Jr., Fmr. NM Cabinet Secretary for Human Services Dept.

Alfredo Vigil, MD FAAP, Fmr. NM Cabinet Secretary for Health & Human Services – Taos

Ronald J. Romero, DDS, Fmr. NM Dept. of Health Dental Director, Private practice dentist – Santa Fe DezBaa Damon-Mallette DMD – Aztec, ABQ

Davis Gauntt, DDS –NM Smiles mobile dental clinic

Bob Giannini, DDS – Fmr. NM Dental Board Chair, ABQ

Howard Rhoads, DDS – Artesia

Roger Ames, DDS – Mora

Bill Niendorff, DDS - ABQ

Patricio Larragoite, DDS – Cochiti, Santa Fe

Harris Silver, MD

William H. Wiese, MD, MPH, Ret. UNM faculty; Fmr. NM DOH Public Health Division Director