SECTION 1. Section 43A of chapter 112 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the definition of “Appropriate supervision” the following 2 definitions:-
“Board”, the board of registration in dentistry or a committee or subcommittee thereof established in the department of public health pursuant to sections 9 and 19 of chapter 13, chapter 30A and sections 43 to 53, inclusive.
“Collaborative management agreement”, a written agreement between a local, state or federal government agency or institution or a licensed dentist and a dental therapist outlining the procedures, services, responsibilities and limitations of the therapist.
SECTION 2. Said section 43A of said chapter 112, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “Dental assistant” the following definition:-
“Dental therapist”, a person who: (i) successfully completed a dental therapist education program that meets the standards of the Commission on Dental Accreditation; or is a graduate of a dental therapist education program that meets the standards of the Commission on Dental Accreditation provided by a post-secondary institution accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.; or is certified by the federal Indian Health Service pursuant to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, 25 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.; (ii) has been licensed by the board to practice as a dental therapist pursuant to section 51B and has been licensed by the board to practice as a dental hygienist pursuant to section 51; and (iii) provides oral health care services, including preventive, oral evaluation and assessment, educational, palliative, therapeutic and restorative services as authorized under said section 51B.
SECTION 3. Said section 43A of said chapter 112, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by adding at the end the following definition:-
“Supervising dentist”, a licensed dentist who enters into a collaborative management agreement with a dental therapist.
SECTION 4. Said chapter 112, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after section 51A the following section:-
Section 51B. Any person of good moral character, who: (i) successfully completed a dental therapist education program that meets the standards of the Commission on Dental Accreditation; or is a graduate of a dental therapist education program that meets the standards of the Commission on Dental Accreditation provided by a post-secondary institution accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.; or is certified by the federal Indian Health Service pursuant to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, 25 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.; (ii) passes a comprehensive, competency-based clinical examination that is approved by the board of registration in dentistry and administered independently of an institution providing registered dental therapy education; and (iii) obtains a policy of professional liability insurance and shows proof of such insurance as required by rules and regulations, shall be registered as a dental therapist and be given a certificate allowing the therapist to practice in this capacity. Such a person shall also be registered as a dental hygienist and be given a certificate allowing the therapist to practice dental hygiene. A dental therapist shall have practiced under the direct supervision of a supervising dentist for at least 500 hours or completed 1 year of residency before practicing under general supervision.
The educational curriculum for a dental therapist educated in the commonwealth shall include training on serving patients with special needs including, but not limited to, people with developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders, mental illness, cognitive impairment, complex medical problems, significant physical limitations and the vulnerable elderly.
Before performing a procedure or providing a service under this paragraph, a dental therapist shall enter into a written collaborative management agreement with a licensed dentist. The agreement shall address: practice settings, any limitation on services established by the supervising dentist, the level of supervision required for various services or treatment settings, patient populations that may be served, practice protocols, record keeping, managing medical emergencies, quality assurance, administering and dispensing medications and supervision of dental assistants and dental hygienists. A dental therapist may provide the services authorized in practice settings where the supervising dentist is not on-site and has not previously examined the patient, to the extent authorized by the supervising dentist in the collaborative management agreement and provided the supervising dentist is available for consultation and supervision by telephone or other means of electronic communication.
The collaborative management agreement shall include specific written protocols to govern situations in which the dental therapist encounters a patient who requires treatment that exceeds the authorized scope of practice of the dental therapist. A collaborative management agreement shall be signed and maintained by the supervising dentist and the dental therapist and shall be submitted upon request by the board. The board shall establish appropriate guidelines for a written collaborative management agreement. The agreement may be updated from time to time. A supervising dentist may have a collaborative management agreement with not more than 4 dental therapists at the same time.
A dental therapist licensed by the board may perform all acts of a public health dental hygienist, all acts provided for in Commission on Dental Accreditation’s dental therapy standards, as well as the following services and procedures pursuant to the written collaborative management agreement without the supervision or direction of a dentist: (A) interpreting radiographs; (B) the placement of space maintainers; (C) pulpotomies on primary teeth; (D) an oral evaluation and assessment of dental disease and the formulation of an individualized treatment plan authorized by the collaborating dentist; and (E) nonsurgical extractions of permanent teeth as limited in this section.
A dental therapist shall not perform any service or procedure described in this section except as authorized by the collaborating dentist. A dental therapist may perform nonsurgical extractions of periodontally diseased permanent teeth with tooth mobility of +3 under general supervision if authorized in advance by the collaborating dentist. The dental therapist shall not extract a tooth for a patient if the tooth is unerupted, impacted or needs to be sectioned for removal. The collaborating dentist is responsible for directly providing or arranging for another dentist or specialist to provide any necessary advanced services needed by the patient. A dental therapist in accordance with the written collaborative management agreement shall refer patients to another qualified dental or health care professional to receive any needed services that exceed the scope of practice of the dental therapist. The collaborating dentist shall ensure that a dentist is available to the dental therapist for timely consultation during treatment if needed and shall either provide or arrange with another dentist or specialist to provide the necessary treatment to a patient who requires more treatment than the dental therapist is authorized to provide. A dental therapist may dispense and administer the following medications within the parameters of the written collaborative management agreement, within the scope of practice of the dental therapist and with the authorization of the collaborating dentist: analgesics, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. The authority to dispense and administer shall extend only to the categories of drugs identified in this paragraph and may be further limited by the written collaborative management agreement. The authority to dispense includes the authority to dispense sample drugs within the categories identified in this paragraph if dispensing is permitted by the written collaborative management agreement. A dental therapist is prohibited from dispensing or administering a narcotic drug.
Dental therapists shall be reimbursed for services covered by Medicaid and other third-party payers. A dental therapist shall not operate independently of a dentist, except for a dental therapist working for a local, state or federal government agency or a non-profit institution or practicing in a mobile or portable prevention program licensed or certified by the department of public health as permitted by law.
A licensed dental therapist may supervise dental assistants to the extent permitted in the collaborative management agreement and according to section 51 ½.
SECTION 5. The board of registration in dentistry, in consultation with the executive office of health and human services, shall perform a 5-year evaluation of the impact of dental therapists, as established under section 51B of chapter 112 of the General Laws, on patient safety, cost-effectiveness and access to dental services. The board shall ensure effective measurements of the following outcomes and file a report of its findings, which shall include: (i) the number of new patients served; (ii) the reduction in waiting times for needed services; (iii) decreased travel time for patients; (iv) the impact on emergency room usage for dental care; and (v) the costs to the public health care system. The report shall be submitted not later than July 1, 2023 to the joint committee on public heath, the joint committee on health care financing and the senate and house committees on ways and means.
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The General Court provides this information as a public service and while we endeavor to keep the data accurate and current to the best of our ability, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.