Florida’s legislature is considering dental therapy legislation. As the Dental Hygiene Program Director at Miami Dade College, I strongly support this initiative.
Dental therapists are mid-level providers, similar to physician assistants in medicine. In states with authorized dental therapy, the work is supervised by dentists to deliver preventive and routine restorative care, such as baby teeth extractions and simple fillings.
The proposed legislation would require a candidate to complete an advanced educational program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), the same body that accredits dental schools and hygiene programs across the country. As the Dental Hygiene Commissioner for CODA, I can confidently speak to the stringent educational oversight accreditation requires.
Miami Dade College’s dental hygiene clinic serves thousands of patients each year, offering comprehensive care at a nominal cost. When our students and licensed dentists find dental decay and the need for restorative care, we refer our patients to facilities throughout the county. What we see repeatedly, however, is that when many of these patients return, they have not had the restorative care.
Expanding the array of dental providers to include therapists would allow Floridians access to oral health care they need and, frankly, deserve. Dental therapy would also provide our students an opportunity for professional advancement.
On Nov. 19, Miami-Dade Oral Health Network will be addressing our community’s oral health needs and support initiatives that increase equity and access at the Oral Health Equity Summit at Miami Dade College’s Hialeah Campus.
I invite the community to attend the free summit and learn more about what dental therapy could mean for Florida.