Since 2010, the Vermont Dental Hygienists’ Association has been a leading member of an oral health coalition of over 40 organizations in Vermont. This coalition is devoted to increasing access to oral health care for the many Vermonters that are unable to receive care in a traditional dental office. One of the solutions to access to care issues proposed in Vermont and other states is a dental therapist.
The dental therapist is a provider with a limited scope of practice that treats patients through both preventative and restorative care. These providers are employed in over 50 countries world-wide, including the United States where they are practicing in Alaska and Minnesota. Last year Maine passed legislation to allow this provider to practice in their state, and we hope to be next in Vermont.
The dental therapist in Vermont will be based on a dental hygienist. This will allow those of you who want to continue your education to eventually provide more comprehensive treatment for your patients. In Vermont, dental therapists will be able to work in traditional dental offices, and in the community under general supervision.
In 2015, the dental therapist legislation (bill S.20) passed the Vermont Senate by an 18-8 vote. In February and March 2016, testimony was heard in the House Human Services Committee. Our goal is to receive a favorable vote from the Vermont House of Representatives before May of 2016, and have the legislation signed into law. Once that occurs, Vermont Technical College will begin preparations to open a dental therapy program alongside their already successful dental hygiene program.
It’s an exciting time; we, as others around the country, have worked hard to get legislation passed that will allow Vermont dental hygienists to expand their professional career if they are interested, while allowing more people to access the oral health care they so desperately need.
If you have questions about the legislation or proposed education please contact Sheila Bannister at [email protected]
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