Pa. expands duties for dental assistants

The Pennsylvania Legislature on April 14 passed a bill expanding the duties of dental assistants to include coronal polishing, applying fluoride treatments including varnish, and making impressions for athletic mouthguards.

2009 12 14 17 23 23 882 Dental Hyg Assist Map 300 V2
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Interactive map of restorative duties by state for hygienists and assistants.

The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) has urged the governor to sign the bill into law. "By allowing dental assistants to perform more duties, dentists and dental hygienists would be free to treat a greater number of patients," the PDA stated in a press release. "An independent audit conducted after Kansas passed similar legislation in the 1990s found an increase in access to dental care."

The new duties apply to expanded function dental assistants (EFDAs), a category of professional who can already place and contour restorations in Pennsylvania.

The EFDAs must work under the direct supervision of a dentist in the same office who personally oversees the work. The law specifically forbids EFDAs from examination, diagnosis, treatment planning, cutting hard or soft tissue, prescribing or administering drugs, taking other types of impressions, making final occlusal adjustments, any endodontics, and placement of prosthetic appliances.

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