ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's experiment with dental therapists appears to be working.

The Legislature authorized the licensing of the mid-level dental care providers eight years ago as a way to expand access to dental care, especially in low-income or rural areas. The profession is comparable to nurse practitioners.

Experts tell reporters that benefits have materialized since the first dental therapists began graduating in 2011.

A study last year by the University of Minnesota found that dental therapists saw up to 90 percent of uninsured patients or patients on public assistance. Other dental patients are seeing shorter wait times.

Sarah Wovcha is the executive director of Children's Dental Service, a nonprofit clinic that treats low-income, uninsured children and pregnant women. She says using dental therapists is saving the clinic money.