Mid-Level Dental Professionals
An agreement was reached in April 2018 on the introduction of new legislation, An Act to Improve Oral Health for All Massachusetts Residents, that would create a new class of dental therapist professionals, while mandating commonsense requirements that protect patient safety and additional resources aimed at increasing access to care for underserved populations.
In the 2017-2018 legislative session, the Massachusetts State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health was referred multiple bills seeking to authorize a mid-level oral health provider. The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) filed “An Act Relative to Graduate Education for Certain Professionals,” legislation to create a public health dental practitioner position as part of a multi-faceted, comprehensive plan for improving access to oral health care. Under the MDS legislation, this new practitioner would be directly supervised by a dentist and limited to providing care in designated dental shortage areas or at federally designated health centers, following two years of post-baccalaureate education. This new class of providers also would be required to meet educational standards comparable to similar practitioners in primary care, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Through the introduction of legislation, the MDS had the opportunity to work with leadership of the state’s House of Representatives and Senate, as well as key advocates and stakeholders, to reach an agreement on legislation that would best serve Massachusetts and serve as a model for the rest of the country.