Maine governor signs bill creating new license for dental therapists

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill into law that establishes a new license for dental hygiene therapists in the state, according to an Associated Press story.

The bill, LD 1230, sponsored by Rep. Mark Eves (D-North Berwick), allows therapists to work in dental practices in rural areas where dental care is not readily available to many residents, according to supporters of the bill. Some 15 of 16 of the state's counties have a shortage of dentists.

It allows dental therapists to perform prophylaxes, restorations, and extractions but not root canals, and requires that a supervising dentist check their work, such as examining x-rays. The dental therapists would be required to take two years of college-level classes, have 2,000 hours of training with a licensed dentist, and pass an examination by the Maine Board of Dental Examiners.

The Maine Dental Association (MDA) has lobbied heavily against the bill, arguing that there is no shortage of dentists and the new University of New England College of Dental Medicine will offset future shortages. The college opened last fall.

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