Wisconsin Legislature debates addition of dental therapists, auxiliaries: 5 things to know

The Wisconsin Legislature is considering bills that would authorize dental therapists and auxiliaries in the state.

Here are five details about the proposals:

  1. Advocates say these positions would boost efficiency at clinics and expand care to underserved communities.
  2. The Wisconsin Dental Association pushed back against dental therapists because they could be too similar to dentists with their ability to provide certain services. However, this changed after a bill introduced in March was updated to reflect several changes, including dental therapists being required to work in shortage areas and under a dentist's supervision for 2,000 hours before working more independently.
  3. A bill introduced June 10 to authorize dental auxiliaries is supported by nearly three dozen co-sponsors.
  4. Under the bill, dental auxiliaries would have to be certified by the Dentistry Examining Board and have 70 hours of classroom instruction. They would be allowed to help dentists complete specific services, including restorations, applying sealants, taking impressions and adjusting dentures.
  5. More than 20 states and the military allow dental auxiliaries, and 13 states allow dental therapists.

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