It looks like two New England states made two very different decisions today. Maine's senate voted to pass a bill that will establish a new license for dental hygiene therapists, allowing them to fill cavities and pull teeth, among other things. New Hampshire, on the other hand, decided to study the issue some more. The debate appears to be about two things: access to care in rural areas and the resistance of some dentists to this expanded role for hygienists. Critics of the Maine bill claim that access to care isn't the cause of poor dental health, it's that patients don't show up for appointments.
Access to dental care is a real issue throughout the country and there are probably plenty of ways to attack that problem. Oral health in general is another issue that needs to be addressed. Is expanding the functions for hygienists one way to address both of these problems? Are there others? I'd like to know what you think. Email me at email@example.com and tell me what you think. I'll post some of your comments to share with everyone.