Bill allows for greater access to dental care in underserved areas

State Rep. Theresa Gavarone

(Submitted by State Rep. Theresa Gavarone)

State Representatives Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and Anthony DeVitis (R-Green), joint sponsors of House Bill 184, the Ohio Dental Care Optimization Act of 2017, applauded its passage from the Ohio House of Representatives.

House Bill 184 expands access to dental care by allowing for state of the art technology and innovative strategies through the use of teledentistry. The bill permits dentists to perform exams and supervise dental hygienists and expanded function dental assistants through the use of technology. Under this proposal, Ohio will be one of the first states to permit dental hygienists and expanded function dental auxillary with appropriate training to provide interim therapeutic restorations and administer Silver Diamine Fluoride to patients, after the dentist conducts a teledentistry exam and diagnoses the need for such restorative materials and procedures. The bill also allows dentists to prescribe non-controlled substances, including antibiotics, via teledentistry.

The legislation creates the Primary Care Dental Student Scholarship which falls under the umbrella of the Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program. The scholarship is designated for dental students who will practice in designated underserved areas upon graduation, increasing efforts to ensure dentists provide care to Medicaid-eligible and other low-income Ohioans.

“Expanding access to medical professionals is vitally important as many Ohioans live in areas where professional care is not available,” Gavarone said. “Embracing the technology we currently have at our disposal and encouraging our medical professionals to live in underserved areas will result in a better and healthier Ohio.”

The goal of this bill is to provide dental care to those communities that have limited access,” said DeVitis.

Barriers are reduced through House Bill 184, for dental hygienists, expanded function dental auxiliary and certified dental assistants, allowing them to provide prevention services and oral health education in school and public health settings, as well as perform additional duties outside the presence of a dentist.

House Bill 184 promotes licensure portability by having Ohio accept the results of all of the regional clinical dental licensure exams, enhancing Ohio’s attractiveness to qualified dentists.