Dentists, Hygienists Square Off Over Legislation
The California Dental Association and groups representing dental hygienists and assistants are at odds over three bills being debated in the Legislature, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
The bills are:
AB 1334, which would eliminate a provision of a 1997 law that allows some highly-trained dental hygienists to treat patients outside of a dentist's office if the patient obtains a prescription from a dentist or physician. Supporters say the bill would provide better access to care for nursing home residents, farm workers and others who do not have regular access to dental care. Opponents say without a prescription, dental hygienists could compromise patient safety;
SB 1472, which would create the California Dental Hygiene Bureau if the California Dental Board is renewed by lawmakers in 2008. Supporters of the measure say that the dental board does not address the concerns of nondentists and that hygienists should have their own governing body. Opponents maintain that the current board structure is responsive to hygienists' concerns; and
- SB 1541, which would allow dental assistants to become licensed through on-the-job training with a dentist. Supporters of the bill say that school is costly and time consuming and that assistants can learn as much by working with a dentist. Opponents say that dentists do not have the time to adequately supervise inexperienced assistants and that educational requirements maintain assistants' quality. Although the bill has received no opposing votes, the Department of Consumer Affairs has requested further analysis of on-the-job training standards (Miller, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/8).