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Wisconsin Bill to Broaden Work Settings for Dental Hygienists

Expanding the number of settings in which dental hygienists can practice is the goal behind a bill in the Wisconsin legislature.

Jodi Manske, RDH

Expanding the number of settings in which dental hygienists can practice is the goal behind a bill in the Wisconsin legislature. Assembly Bill 146 would enable dental hygienists to provide preventive services to patients in settings such as nursing homes, nonprofit dental care programs, hospitals, and correctional facilities, independent of dentists.

Passage of the bill authored by Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) would allow dental hygienists like Jodi Manske, RDH, to move from part-time to full-time at the Madison Dental Initiative, a nonprofit dental clinic that provides oral health services to homeless and low-income populations in Dane County, Wisconsin. Currently, dentists volunteer at the clinic sporadically, limiting when dental hygienists can provide preventive services. Patients at the Madison Dental Initiative need dental work ranging from prophylaxes to extractions to dentures and partials, Manske tells Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. “I see the need for people who don’t have access to care,” Manske notes. “If we are able to provide more dental care now, it will reduce overall health issues for these patients.”

The bill has passed the State Assembly and now moves to the State Senate, then to the governor’s desk for final approval. The bill has support from the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association, Wisconsin Dental Association, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and other health organizations.

From Dimensions of Dental HygieneMay 2017;15(4):10. 

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