Florida faces dentist shortage — New legislation arises to combat the issue


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As Florida struggles with a lack of dentists, a coalition known as the Floridians for Dental Access is looking to fix the problem, according to the Daily Commercial.

The group is proposing legislation to certify dental therapists, who could perform basic clinical dental treatment as well as preventative services.

Florida would not be the only state to license dental therapists. Arizona, Alaska, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Vermont also licensed dental therapists.

This new legislation goes against the Florida Dental Association, which contends there are other strategies to improve access to care. One of the initiatives the association proposed is appropriating $500,000 to fund a forgiveness program for 10 dental students. Those dental students would then work in public health settings and underserved areas.

In Florida, 30 of the 67 counties are designated as rural areas, of which 2.4 percent of Florida's dentists practice in. In 2017-18, Florida had 11,362 dentists with in-state active licenses. Of those dentists, 794 licenses were issued for the first time rather than renewed.

More articles on dentists:
Washington introduces new bill to establish dental therapists: 5 insights
Delta Dental of Illinois adds 4 board members
Drs. Jucheng Chen, Stephanos Kykanides & more: 5 dentists making headlines

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