The Dentist-less Dental Clinic of Alaska


Dental ClinicA village lies on the edge of the Bering Sea. Fortunately, it has a dental clinic. Unfortunately, no dentist is on staff. The clinic is operational, by the way.

What’s Missing

The Alaska Dental Society and the American Dental Association have expressed their antipathy towards Aurora Johnson’s dental practice in the heart of Unalakleet, Alaska. Ms. Johnson is a trained dental practitioner, with two years of learning experience to show for it. From a program found nowhere else but Alaska. The dental groups assert how Ms. Johnson is unqualified for the treatments she conducts every day. Let alone run a dental practice.

Dentists from Harley Street Dental Clinic cite the four years of post-collegiate education dental practitioners need to conduct treatments legally, as well as establish a clinic of their own. Patients of dental therapists like Ms. Johnson run the risk of receiving substandard care. But, in remote areas such as Unalakleet, the lack of an option to approach a certified dental practitioner is more to blame than the residents’ preference for an unqualified provider.

What Matters

Both ADAs have already filed lawsuits against Ms. Johnson’s dental practice. The local court dropped both of them, primarily due to the reasoning mentioned above. Dental care, in many parts of the world, remains as a providential service — nothing to be picky about, especially since a proper dental education, except of course for dental therapy, also remains out of reach in these areas.

‘Are you trying to laugh? This is not the time to laugh, bud’, Ms. Johnson tells Paul Towarak, reassuring the giggly 10-year-old before the treatment begins. As the inclement, frigid winds of the Bering Sea whistled outside, Ms. Johnson laid down fillings of silver amalgam into the boy’s three cavities. The village of nearly 750 natives trust Ms. Johnson far more than the dental groups of the cities.

It does not matter. Paul walks out giving his greatest, only dentist a gleeful thumbs up.

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