Dental hygienists want to expand roles

BOSTON (WWLP) — A healthy smile can take some expensive upkeep. 

Dental hygienists want the legal right to provide more services for patients.

They want a bill would create a new designation of "advanced dental hygiene practitioner". It would require further education to perform duties ordinarily done by dentists.

Dental hygienists say the bill would expand access to healthy smiles and provide a less expensive alternative to dentists. The American Dental Hygienists' Association says there are more than 600,000 Massachusetts residents living in cities or towns with dental health shortages.

Melanie Jones, a dental hygienist student, told 22News, “In this country there's a shortage of dentists, so this would allow dental hygienists to fill in that gap, to increase access to care for those that are not getting care right now.”

Dental hygienists also support a bill that allows them to administer nitrous oxide, or "laughing gas," with a permit and under the supervision of a dentist.

Critics from dental associations oppose transferring duties to dental hygienists ordinarily handled by dentists.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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