In a 2018 report, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor in collaboration with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and White House offices, made policy recommendations on state and federal policies to improve choice and competition in the health care markets. The report says “emerging healthcare occupations, such as dental therapy, can increase access and drive down costs for consumers, while still ensuring safe care. States should be particularly wary of undue statutory and regulatory impediments to the development of such new occupations.” Furthermore, the report recommends “States should evaluate emerging healthcare occupations, such as dental therapy, and consider ways in which their licensure and scope of practice can increase access and drive down consumer costs while still ensuring safe, effective care.
Currently, 42 states allow dental hygienists to initiate patient care in a setting outside of the private dental office without the presence of a dentist. These policies enable dental hygienists to practice in community settings and reach a variety of patient populations.
ADHA policies highlight the association’s flexibility in considering various workforce models as well as ADHA’s commitment to the development of providers who are appropriately educated and committed to deliver safe, quality oral healthcare to those in need.