Georgia Legislation Seeks to Eliminate Direct Supervision Law for Dental Hygienists
Georgia is one of the few states in the country where dental hygienists can practice only under the direct supervision of a dentist.
Georgia is one of the few states in the country where dental hygienists can practice only under the direct supervision of a dentist. Since 2015, the Georgia Dental Hygienists’ Association (GDHA) has sought to change this law so that dental hygienists can help improve access to care by treating patients in safety-net settings, such as schools, long-term care facilities, and clinics. Currently, 1.1 million children in the state lack access to dental care. In early 2017, new bills—SB 12 and HB 154—were introduced into the Georgia legislature that would enable dental hygienists to perform certain functions under general supervision. GDHA President Suzanne Newkirk, RDH, shared some background on the issue withDimensions of Dental Hygiene, stating, “If just 20% of those 1.1 million children who lack dental care had received basic preventive services, the state’s Medicaid program would have saved $7 million annually.” Reform, Newkirk argues, is necessary. “Passing these bills is both socially and fiscally responsible,” she asserts. The bills are coming into the new legislative session with support from two powerful chairs of the Georgia Health and Human Services Committees, which may increase the likelihood of their passage.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. February 2017;15(2):16.