Bringing Good Dental Care to Underserved Areas

The Joint Committee on Public Health on Tuesday heard testimony on a bill that would create a new level of dental practice – Advance Dental Hygiene Practitioners (ADHP) – to help deliver care to under-served patients across the commonwealth, including many children. MHA is a member of the Dental Care for Mass Coalition that strongly supports the bill, whose lead sponsors are Sen. Majority Leader Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) and  Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli (D-Lenox).

Under SB1169/HB2474 the ADHPs, once they have successfully completed additional training, would be able to deliver basic dental care; they would practice under the general supervision of a dentist and take advantage of telehealth and electronic health record technology to share patient records with dentists and consult with them on complicated cases.

Across the commonwealth there are 61 federally designated dentist shortage areas containing 244,000 residents with unmet dental care needs. According to the Pew Center on the States, 47% of children in the MassHealth program did not see a dentist in 2014.

Notably, Baker Health & Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders testified at the hearing in support of the establishment of ADHPs as Governor Baker included the creation of these practitioners as part of his MassHealth reform savings legislation that he filed as an amendment to the FY18 budget.