Washington introduces new bill to establish dental therapists: 5 insights

Dentists

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Washington Representative Eileen Cody, D, proposed a new bill to expand access to oral healthcare throughout the state, according to the State of Reform.

Five insights:

1. HB 1317 would regulate and certify dental therapists in the state. The bill is designed to address oral health workforce shortages in Washington.

2. The decision to establish dental therapists follows a national trend. Dental therapists are mid-level oral health providers who work under a licensed dentist.

3. Rep. Cody's bill requires dental therapists to be licensed and meet minimum standards for training and competency. Washington will use the national Commission of Dental Accreditation's standards.

4. Alaska is among the states who have seen the benefits of licensing dental therapists. In 2017, a Seattle-based University of Washington study found the availability of dental therapists in Alaska increased preventative care rates while extractions decreased.

5. In March 2017, a bill was passed in Washington to allow dental therapists to work on tribal lands.

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