A bill passed the Kansas House that will let specially trained dental hygienists do temporary fillings, pull baby teeth and perform other basic dental services.
In Kansas there is a severe dentist shortage, so this measure will help Kansas dentists spend more time doing complicated work that might have been neglected since they were so busy doing basic services.
The dental hygienists would be a new class, Level III, and would have to receive more training than other hygienists. Their additional responsibilities would include identifying and removing decay, placing temporary fillings, adjusting dentures and checking for sore spots, extracting loose baby teeth, smoothing sharp teeth with drills, and using local anesthetics.
They could work in prisons, health care clinics, and with low-income seniors, and the developmentally disabled. This would assist low-cost clinics, and those who are on Medicaid that private dentists don’t accept.
But even though this is a step, some say it still isn’t enough since patients would still need to go to the main clinic for a permanent filling. Some recommend a category for ‘registered dental practitioners’ who would be allowed to perform more permanent restorative services for hard-to-serve populations. Fort Hays State University has offered to enact a program that would train practitioners to provide these services in western Kansas.
The bill for dental practitioners introduced earlier this session was shot down by the Kansas Dental Association since it said the bill could jeopardize patient health and safety. Some hope the dental practitioner bill will come up again next year to help expand dental care even more.