A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Boston Globe Op Ed Supports Bill to Allow for Dental Hygiene Practitioners

Boston Globe Op Ed Supports Bill to Allow for Dental Hygiene Practitioners

December 2, 2015

Good dental care

Last Friday (Nov 25) the Boston Globe published an Op Ed by Harvard University Dentist Lisa Simon supporting legislation, introduced by state Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Smitty Pignatelli, that would create a new mid-level dental provider: Dental Hygiene Practitioners.  Dr. Simon describes the overwhelming need for dental services she has seen in her years treating vulnerable populations, explaining “Dental clinics in Massachusetts are tremendously overburdened” with long wait times for dental care. Many find it difficult to locate a dentist at all.  “The suffering is heaped disproportionately on the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities, including children and low income seniors.”

Dr. Simon supports creating a Dental Hygiene Practitioner to provide basic dental services, freeing up dentists to “focus on treating the more urgent and complex needs of their patients.”

Read the full article here

HCFA is participating in a new coalition, the Dental Care for Mass Coalition. The coalition is supporting the Massachusetts legislation, S. 1118 / H. 249, which would authorize dental hygiene practitioners, a midlevel professional that is similar to physician assistants on a medical team.

For a national perspective on creating midlevel dental providers, see a recent journal article published in Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

      -- Helen Hendrickson