Residents of Vermont may soon have an alternative to seeing their dentist. According to a report by VTDigger, the bill known as S.20 creates a new profession—dental therapist—that would be regulated through the Office of Professional Regulation.
According to a report by VTDigger, the profession of dental therapist would require 4 years of training, which is less than a dentist but more than a dental hygienist. A dental therapist would have a bachelor’s degree and be allowed to perform 8 procedures more than a dental hygienist. The individual would need to work under a contract with a supervising dentist, but the dentist would not need to practice in the same building as the dental therapist.
“Dental therapists will work alongside dentists and dental hygienists to treat patients, similar to how physician assistants have increased the number of health care providers in doctors’ office around the state,” said House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown), a supporter of the bill. “I encourage the Senate and governor to act on this proposal so more Vermonters can access the care that they need.”
Before advancing the bill Tuesday, the House approved an amendment from a Republican representative who wanted to make it clear that dentists will not be required to employ or supervise dental therapists if they do not want to. The bill now moves on to the Senate, which considered a previous version in 2015. The Senate will decide whether to approve the House’s changes or move to a conference committee.
While Voices for Vermont’s Children supports the bill, the Vermont Dental Society is opposed.
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