Dental compact continues to gain momentum

Tracee S. Dahm, MS, RDH.
Tracee S. Dahm, MS, RDH.

Dental professionals made history on April 22, 2024. On that day, the seventh state accepted the dental compact license agreement, thus activating it into initial legalization. Maine was the seventh state to sign the dental compact license.

This dream of allowing dental professionals to practice within numerous states with one license has been a work in progress over the past two years. However, it will most likely be another year before the compact license is available to those who want to apply for it.

When the initial dental professional compact license idea was drawn up by the National Center for Interstate Compacts at the Council of State Governments, they had help. The organization worked alongside the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Dental Hygienists' Association, and the ADA.

Now that the minimum of seven states (Iowa, Washington, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, Kansas, and Maine) have signed the compact license into legislation, the next process begins. In the next few months, appointed commissioners from each of these states will meet with the organizations mentioned above to begin the process of maintaining educational standards while practicing under one license. Some concerns have already been mentioned by dental professionals who are worried that the currently drafted educational standards and guidelines are not enough.

In addition to maintaining the highest level of educational standards, the state commissioners and supporting organizations must also find a way to monitor the data of all dental professionals who have applied for the compact license so that each state has access to the professionals' credentials. Currently, the National Center for Interstate Compacts has stated that a dental professional compact license will not be eligible to apply for about another 12 to 18 months.

There are currently eight more states that are considering adopting the dental compact license. If more states adopt the legislation, more state commissioners will need to meet.

Luckily for dental professionals, we are not the first health professionals to obtain a compact license. Compact licenses have been shown to be successful in that they improve access to care by having more providers and their credentialing does not lower educational standards and can be monitored. Dental professionals are hopeful that the state commissioners can use the knowledge and experience from other health professionals' compact licenses as a guide to finalize the dental and dental hygienist compact license.

Author's note: References available upon request.

Tracee S. Dahm, MS, RDH, is an adjunct clinical instructor for the North Idaho College School of Dental Hygiene in Coeur d’Alene, ID. She also works in private practice. Dahm has published articles in several dental journals, magazines, and a textbook. Her research interests include trends in dental hygiene and improving access to dental care for the underserved. She can be reached at [email protected].  

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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