Maryland improves access to dental care
April 29, 2008 --
Maryland hygienists will be able to treat patients without dentist supervision under legislation passed this month in Maryland.
The Maryland Legislature also allocated more than $16 million to fund other measures aimed at improving dental care in the state.
The new rules will go into effect October 1, 2008.
Currently, public facilities needed to file a waiver with the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners to allow dental hygienists to perform dental hygiene on a patient without the dentist first seeing the patient, wrote Stacey Chappell, governmental affairs manager at the American Dental Hygienists' Association, in an e-mail to DrBicuspid.com.
The new legislation allows hygienists to perform certain tasks in a public setting without the waiver. Some of the public places include:
- Dental facilities owned and operated by federal, state, or local governments
- Public health department or schools
- Health facilities licensed by the public health department
- State-licensed Head Start or Early Head Start programs
The tasks include
- Doing a preliminary dental exam
- Performing a complete prophylaxis, including the removal of deposit, accretion, or stain from the surface of a tooth, or a restoration
- Polishing a tooth or restoration
- Charting cavities, restorations, missing teeth, periodontal conditions, and other features observed during the preliminary examination, prophylaxis, or polishing
- Applying a medicinal agent to a tooth for a prophylactic purpose
- Taking a dental X-ray
- Applying sealants or fluoride agents
The state budget also allocated millions of dollars to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates ($14 million), fund new dental clinics in Southern Maryland and on the Upper Eastern Shore ($1.4 million), and establish a mobile school-based dental services program ($700,000).