California hygienists get independent regulating body

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation last week that made California the first state to establish a self-regulating agency for dental hygienists.

Effective January 1, 2009, Bill 853 calls for the creation of a Dental Hygiene Committee, a regulatory body under the California Dental Board that will oversee the state's dental hygiene profession. The committee will be charged with licensure, education, and enforcement of dental hygiene, according to a press release from the California Dental Hygienists' Association, which sponsored the bill.

"The new law ... provides practical benefits for consumers, as well as a recognition that the state's dental hygienists possess unique expertise, stature, and skills similar to those of pharmacists, optometrists, physician assistants, and nurses," said Noel Kelsch, president of the California Dental Hygienists' Association.

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