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Mid-Level Dental Professionals

For the 2017-2018 legislative session, the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) filed “An Act Relative to Graduate Education for Certain Professionals,” legislation that includes the creation of a public health dental practitioner (PHDP) position as part of a multi-faceted, comprehensive plan for improving access to oral health care.

This new practitioner, who would be directly supervised by a dentist, would be limited to providing care in designated dental shortage areas or at federally designated health centers, following two years of post-baccalaureate education. Also included is a requirement that this new class of providers meets educational standards comparable to similar practitioners in primary care, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

MDS President Talks Mid-Level Legislation on Boston Herald Radio

On October 18, 2017, MDS President Dr. David Lustbader was a guest on the Boston Herald Radio Morning Meeting show. He spoke on the MDS’s comprehensive oral health legislation (S.142/H.2820), opposing legislation, and the critical importance of requiring proper training, credentialing, and supervision of a new class of mid-level dental providers in Massachusetts.


An Act Relative to Graduate Education for Certain Professionals

About Our Bill

In January 2017, the MDS proposed legislation to address problems facing underserved populations, children in particular, who do not receive oral health care, including preventive treatments.

An Act Relative to Graduate Education for Certain Professionals, sponsored by State Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) and State Representative Peter V. Kocot (D-Northampton), will allow for a comprehensive approach to improved access and oral health care for underserved populations, including:

  • Increased advocacy for and awareness of fluoridated water in Massachusetts communities
  • Improved integration of dental hygiene into the state’s Department of Public Health
  • Mandatory dental screenings of children prior to entering kindergarten
  • Introduction of a new class of "mid-level" dental practitioners 


Mid-Level Dental Practitioners

A New Class of Dental Professional

Our legislation introduces a new mid-level dental professional called a Public Health Dental Practitioner (PHDP). This appropriately-trained practitioner would be directly supervised by a licensed dentist to ensure the safest possible care for every patient. Under our bill, PDHPs would be eligible to support the practice of dentistry in the Commonwealth and required to practice in areas of the state that are officially designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as dental practice shortage areas or in federally qualified health centers.


Dental Tools

PHDH Requirements

Training and education that mirror the standards required of physicians assistants and nurse practitioners in the field of medicine:  

  • Two years of graduate-level education
  • Must be directly overseen by licensed and fully credentialed dentist
  • Performs procedures of a registered dental hygienist and minimum competencies allowed by CODA dental therapy standards, except extractions
  • If practicing outside of a federally qualified health center, the provider must see 100% MassHealth patients

MDS Boston Globe Ad

As part of the MDS' advocacy efforts around the mid-level dental practitioner issue and our related proposed legislation, House Bill 2820, the MDS placed an ad in the print edition of the September 17, Sunday Boston Globe. This ad is one component of a strategic campaign in support of our legislation, which includes lobbying, media relations, and grassroots engagement.

Our ad is a message to Massachusetts residents signed by MDS President Dr. David Lustbader about the importance of requiring the highest level of education, training, and supervision of a new class of mid-level dental providers and our commitment as dentists to fight for safe, effective, and accessible care for all residents of the Commonwealth.


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