Florida Considers Dental Therapy
The Florida legislature is considering two bills that would allow the licensure of dental therapists in the hopes of improving access to dental care for the Sunshine State’s most vulnerable residents. More than 140 organizations and individuals are advocating for the passage of HB 1173 and SB 1254, which were introduced by Floridians for Dental Access, American Children’s Campaign, and Florida Dental Hygienists’ Association. With HB 1173 already advancing through two Florida House committees, proponents highlight the urgent need to improve dental access and overall health outcomes for Floridians. Currently, Florida ranks poorly in oral health nationwide, leading in the number of residents living in dental health professional shortage areas. Nearly 6 million Floridians reside in these dental deserts, suffering from preventable dental conditions that often result in pain, missed work or school, and costly emergency department visits. In 2021 alone, Florida hospitals incurred more than $550 million in charges for nontraumatic dental conditions. Fourteen states have already embraced the dental therapy model to enhance dental access, drawing on a century of global dental therapy practice. Click here to read more.