Bill allows Mass. hygienists to work unsupervised

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that will allow dental hygienists to work without dentist supervision in limited public settings, according to a news story by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The bill will enable hygienists to work in schools, nursing homes, residences of homebound people, community health centers, and long-term care facilities, according to the report. The bill also allows them to become registered as public health dental hygienists, form collaborative relationships with dentists, and be paid for their services directly from public and subsidized health insurance programs.

"Certain areas of the commonwealth have long had a severe shortage of dentists. This bill will try to fill that gap by allowing public health dental hygienists to go into those areas and reach a population that has not been reached before," Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), the bill's sponsor, told the Telegram & Gazette.

The bill now goes before the House, which is expected to vote on it by July 31.

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