On January 13, Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. (D-NM) pre-filed S.B. 76. The bill establishes and regulates the role of dental therapist-hygienist. According to the bill, a dental therapist-hygienist may provide dental therapy-hygiene services in private and public dental and medical offices, public and community medical facilities, federal Indian health service facilities, schools, hospitals and
long-term care facilities and other settings as determined by joint committee rules.
In addition, under the bill a dental therapist-hygienist must practice under the general supervision of a dentist pursuant to a written supervision agreement between the dentist and the dental therapist-hygienist. General supervision is defined as a dentist's authorization of the procedures that are executed by a dental therapist-hygienist while the dentist is not physically present in the facility where the procedures are taking place and in accordance with the dental
therapist-hygienist's diagnosis and treatment plan. To practice under the general supervision of a dentist, a dental therapist-hygienist must enter into a dental therapist-hygienist management agreement with a dentist. The dental therapist-hygienist management agreement must set forth the scope of practice and conditions under which the dentist will provide general supervision of the dental therapist-hygienist.
The scope of practice for a dental therapist-hygienist includes the following (this list is not exhaustive):
- placement of temporary restoration;
- tissue conditioning and soft reline;
- a traumatic restorative therapy;
- dressing changes;
- tooth reimplantation and stabilization of reimplanted teeth;
- administration of local anesthetic and nitrous oxide;
- extractions of primary teeth; and
- extractions of permanent teeth that have no impactions and no need of sectioning for removal.
S. 35, sponsored by Sens. Claire Ayer (D-VT) and Jeanette White (D-VT) has been referred to the Committee on Government Operations for consideration. The bill establishes and regulates licensed dental practitioners. According to the bill a dental practitioner must be a graduate of a dental practitioner educational program that provides, at a minimum, a three-year accelerated bachelor’s degree, which includes at least 400 hours of dental practitioner clinical practice under the general supervision of a licensed dentist and which is administered by an institution accredited to train dentists, dental hygienists or dental assistants. A dental hygienist may fulfill the education requirements of this role by completing at least one year of dental practitioner education and training established by the Board of Dental Examiners by rule. Completion of an exam is required to become licensed as a dental practitioner.
In addition to services permitted by the Board of Dental Examiners by rule, a licensed dental practitioner may perform the following oral health care services (this list is not exhaustive):
- applying topical preventive or prophylactic agents, including fluoride varnishes, antimicrobial agents, and pit and fissure sealants;
- pulp vitality testing;
- applying desensitizing medication or resin;
- fabricating athletic mouthguards;
- administering nitrous oxide;
- oral evaluation and assessment of dental disease;
- extractions of primary teeth; and
- restoring primary and permanent teeth, not including permanent tooth crowns, bridges or denture fabrication.
H.B. 1129 passed the full House by a vote of 98-0 on January 28. The bill adds physician assistants to the list of health care providers who may possess and administer topical fluoride varnish to the teeth of children aged six months to three years pursuant to an oral or written order or a standing protocol issued by a doctor of medicine, osteopathic medicine or dentistry. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health for further consideration.