General Assembly Called To Expand Access To Oral Health Care

Armen Hareyan's picture
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President of the Pennsylvania Dental Association issued statement regarding the House passage of Senate Bill 455 that would allow dental hygienists to offer basic dental services at nursing homes, correctional institutions and schools.

"The Pennsylvania Dental Association has made access to oral health care a top priority of the organization. This legislation is a step in the right direction, but there is more that can be done to improve access to dental health care in Pennsylvania.

"We worked with Senator Pat Vance on this legislation to expand access to basic dental services for those in public settings while guarding patient safety. And we look forward to working with state lawmakers to expand access to dental services and improve oral health care for all Pennsylvanians."

Specifically, Johnston said the PDA would like state lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow trained dental assistants to perform routine, preventative dental services, such as polishing. Johnston said this expansion would free dentists and dental hygienists to see more patients, increasing access to dental services for all Pennsylvanians.

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In addition, the PDA is calling on the General Assembly to pass legislation that would require fluoridation for public water supply systems. More than 60 years of scientific study overwhelmingly proves the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation.

"If lawmakers truly want to improve access to proven oral health services, they would push for fluoridation in public water systems across the Commonwealth," Johnston said. "This would ensure that nearly all Pennsylvanians - rich and poor, young and old -- will receive preventative dental care by using fluoridated water."

Johnston said PDA officials worked with Senator Vance to improve patient safety standards in SB455 by:

-- Requiring that dental hygienists serving as public health dental hygiene practitioners have the proper training, experience and insurance.

-- Requiring that dental hygienists serving as public health dental hygiene practitioners receive continuing education.

-- And, requiring that the patients seen in a public setting are referred to a dentist once a year to ensure there are no serious dental or oral illnesses that would need detection and treatment from a dentist.

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