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Maine Lawmakers Consider Bill to Allow 'Dental Therapists'
04/10/2013 04:10 PM ET  

Supporters say the bill will increase access to dental care, but opponents, including many dentists, say they're concerned that patients will be put at risk.

Supporters and opponents of a bill that would permit mid-level dental hygiene therapists to provide limited oral care under the supervision of a dentist are expected to square off tommorow at the State House.

At issue is a bill, sponsored by House Speaker Mark Eves, that's intended to expand access to dental care in Maine, where 1 in 2 children currently lack access to dental services.

Dr. Mary Williard has supervised a similar program in Alaska and she says Maine is ready for the new category of licensing for dental hygiene therapists.

"The people in Maine hope to increase access to dental care for all people, especially people with MaineCare who are having trouble receiving the dental care in their communities," Willard says.

Many dentists oppose the bill, and question whether the 500 hours of training required for the licensure is sufficient for performing invasive surgical procedures. The bill, LD 1230, will be heard in the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee Thrusday at 1 p.m.

This story was reported by A.J. Higgins.



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