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Dr. Louis W. Sullivan visits successful dental therapy program in Alaska

Washington, DC, September 12, 2012 – With the shortage of dentists and limited access to oral health care nationwide, it is important to consider all dental provider models that could reduce the nation’s health disparities. To learn more about the dental therapist model and the Alaska Dental Health Aide Therapy (DHAT) Program, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan just participated in a W. K. Kellogg Foundation-sponsored educational tour to Anchorage and Bethel, Alaska. The DHAT Program was founded to reduce the oral health inequities that affect many Native-American children.

“I was so impressed both by the students’ commitment to the two-year DHAT program and that such a large majority returns to their villages to practice,” said Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, Chairman of The Sullivan to Transform the Health Professions.

“The dental therapists’ patients are highly satisfied,” said Sullivan. “And in terms of overall oral health, the change from seeing a dentist once a year to having fulltime access to dental care has been profound.”

This educational trip to Alaska follows the “Oral Health, Unmet Needs, Underserved Populations, and the Dental Therapist: A Regional Dialogue” event that took place in Atlanta, Georgia in July. The Sullivan Alliance, in partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine’s Community Voices Initiative, brought together health and dental leaders from across Georgia – as well as other national and regional thought leaders in dentistry, education, medicine, health policy, and oral health research – to discuss ways to make dental care accessible to more Americans.

About the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions

Under the leadership of Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions was organized in January 2005, to act on the reports and recommendations of the Sullivan Commission (Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions), and the Institute of Medicine Committee on Institutional and Policy-Level Strategies for Increasing the Diversity of the U.S. Healthcare Workforce (In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce). The Alliance’s goal is to provide the focused leadership, deep commitment, and sustainable efforts that will result in the addition to our nation’s workforce of more well-trained health professionals from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds able to provide quality health care and break-through research in the decades ahead.

For more information, go to, Twitter (@SullivanAllianc) or Facebook (