New Hampshire (Again) Mulls Creation of 'Dental Practitioners'

Feb 19, 2013

Credit Green MPs / Flick/Creative Commons

The new practitioners would be something between a dentist and hygienist. They’d be certified to clean, do fillings, pull baby teeth and a host of other procedures.

Hygienists would need an extra year of training, and the supervision of a dentist to practice.

Some advocates say the new role is necessary to expand care to rural and poorer populations.

Senator Peggy Gilmour, prime sponsor of the bill, told a legislative committee the dental system in New Hampshire is in need of the change.

Gilmour: “We know that health care in the future must be flexible. That we must move more and more into the community. And we must focus on prevention first.”

The New Hampshire Dental Society opposes the bill. It argues that practitioners would be under-trained for certain non-reversible procedures.

The best way to improve access, they argue, is through education and expanded transportation, along with proven methods such as fluoridation of drinking water.

Lawmakers took up a similar bill last year, eventually passing a stripped-down version. Both Vermont and Maine are currently considering similar legislation.

Minnesota and Alaska are the only states to approve so called ‘mid-level dental therapists.’