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Bill Sees Role for Dental Practitioners

dentistBOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow dental hygienists to perform certain procedures now reserved for dentists, including simple fillings and tooth extractions.

Supporters believe the bill would improve access to oral health care for the poor. But dentists worry that patient safety could be compromised.

The legislation would create the position of advanced dental hygiene practitioner, similar to a nurse practitioner and comparable to dental therapists in some other states and countries.

Practitioners would need up to 18 months of training and would not be able to perform complex procedures like invasive surgeries.

The Massachusetts Dental Hygienists’ Association backs the bill. It says more than half of the state’s communities have no dentists who accept the state’s Medicaid program. The group says dental practitioners could help bridge the gap.

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