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California bill calls for "rigorous study" of expanded dental procedures

January 27, 2012

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Sacramento, Calif.—Legislation approved by the state senate Jan. 26 would create a dentist-led Statewide Office of Oral Health within the state Department of Public Health charged with addressing the "significant human and financial costs" of unmet dental needs.

As amended Jan. 25 and forwarded to the state assembly, SB 694 says the new statewide office "may design and implement a scientifically rigorous study to assess the safety, quality, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction of expanded dental procedures for the purpose of informing future decisions about how to meet the state's unmet oral health need for the state's children.

"The research parameters of the study shall include public health settings, multiple models of dentist supervision, multiple pathways of education and training, and multiple dental providers. Procedures performed during the study shall be performed only by providers within the confines of a university-based study."

The bill directs the dental director of the new statewide office to convene an advisory group on study design and implementation "comprised of representatives of all dental practices, including traditional and nontraditional, as well as nondentists."

The California Dental Association cited "a lack of needed information concerning potential new dental workforce providers providing care for underserved children" and said that "rigorous, scientific study on the safety, quality and cost-effectiveness of allowing certain procedures, such as fillings, to be performed by nondentists is needed.

"It is not appropriate for California to create any kind of provider without this assurance, and therefore CDA is opposed to any changes in scopes of practice until such compelling data exists," the CDA said in a statement on SB 694 as amended.

The bill will be considered by Assembly committees likely in March, said Alicia Malaby, California Dental Association communications director. It gained Senate approval by a vote of 34-2.