Many groups and individuals benefited from the Minnesota Legislature’s activities during the 2017 legislative session. A number of laws were presented to the governor and signed into law, with several important laws going into effect on August 1 of this year. Dental hygienists and those without easy access to basic preventative dental care are two groups benefitting from these legislative activities. Thanks to a lessening of restrictions governing the settings in which dental hygienists can work, it is hoped that Minnesotans will have greater access to dental care.
Law Changes the Settings in Which Dental Hygienists May Work
The law changes do not affect the procedures that dental hygienists in Minnesota can perform. Under existing law, dental hygienists can take the vital signs of patients, polish crowns, take x-rays of patients’ teeth, and provide topical agents designed to protect patients’ teeth. The law previously permitted hygienists to perform these procedures only in the dental clinic setting under the supervision of a dentist. However, those of limited resources and/or those who must remain in long-term care facilities are not always able to access clinics. Unfortunately, dental problems that are not detected and treated early can quickly become difficult and expensive to treat.
After the changes made this legislative session, dental hygienists may now perform the procedures in long-term care facilities, schools, and certain other similar locations. Dental hygienists can also perform their services in other areas, such as rural areas that do not have access to dental services or treatment options. These services may be performed in these settings so long as the dental hygienists have a collaborative agreement with a licensed dentist. The dentist need not be present in order for the hygienist to be able to perform these services.
Expanding Access for Rural and At-Risk Minnesotans
Some of the most common dental problems for individuals ages 40 to 60 (according to the American Dental Association) include:
It is hoped that with this new law change these and other problems can be reduced or eliminated in rural and/or underserved areas and communities.
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