A bill that would make dental therapists a new layer of licensed professional in Arizona is moving forward in the state Legislature.
This new level of care would fall between the work done by a dental hygienist and a dentist. Dental therapists would be trained to fill cavities, leaving more complex cases such as crowns and root canals to dentists.
Senate Bill 1377 passed the Senate health committee last week 4-3 and will be heard next on the Senate floor.
Alicia Thompson, coordinator for the Southern Arizona Oral Health Coalition and proponent of the new classification of dental practice said in The Phoenix Business Journal:
We need to increase our capacity to provide care to all of our patients. To do that, we really need to add a mid-level provider like a dental therapist so that we can utilize our dentists to work at the top of their practice, while dental therapists focus on preventive care and the most common, restorative care people need day-to-day.
But the Arizona Dental Association is not supportive. Kevin Earle, the association’s executive director, said it can be dangerous, especially if a dental therapist is treating a patient in rural Arizona and miscalculates the dosage of local anesthesia. Earle is quoted:
It doesn’t get fixed by providing a lesser-trained person fresh out of high school with three years of training who can drill and pull teeth.
Learn more about this developing legislative debate at The Phoenix Business Journal,