As you may recall, last year DSPN was involved in passing a bill that allowed dental hygienists to practice in certain settings without the supervision of a dentist. The goal of the bill was to expand opportunities for dental hygiene to undeserved populations. Because of that bill being passed into law dental hygienists can now practice in CBRFs, AFHs, CRPs and adult day cares.
A new bill is now before the Wisconsin Legislature. SB 784 would create a new license category for dental therapists. The goal of this legislation is, as before, to expand services to undeserved populations. People with disabilities often have difficulty getting quality oral care, especially in rural areas. We have asked the DSPN public policy committee if they would like to formally endorse the passage of this bill.
You can read the entire bill here.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill provides for the licensure of dental therapists, who are health care practitioners who may engage in the limited practice of dentistry.
Under current law, dentists and dental hygienists are licensed by the Dentistry Examining Board to practice dentistry and dental hygiene, respectively. This bill provides for the licensure of a third type of dental practitioner, dental therapists. Under the bill, the board must grant a dental therapist license to an individual who satisfies certain criteria, including completion of a dental therapy program and passage of required examinations.
Dental therapists may provide dental therapy services only under the general supervision of a dentist with whom the dental therapist has a collaborative management agreement that addresses various aspects of the dental therapist's practice. Supervision by a dentist requires the dentist's prior knowledge and consent, but does not require the presence of the dentist at the time a task or procedure is being performed or prior examination or diagnosis of a patient by a dentist prior to the provision of dental therapy services by a dental therapist. Dental therapists are, subject to the terms of a collaborative management agreement, limited to providing services, treatments, and procedures that are specified in the bill, as well as additional services, treatments, or procedures specified by the board by rule. Dental therapists must complete 12 hours of continuing education each biennium.
The bill subjects dental therapists to, or covers dental therapists under, various other laws, including the health care records law, the volunteer health care provider program, the health care worker protection law, and the emergency volunteer health care practitioner law. The bill also provides for loan forgiveness for dental therapists under the health care provider loan assistance program.
Finally, the bill requires, effective when the first individual becomes licensed as a dental therapist in this state, that two dental therapists be added to the board.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as an appendix to this bill.