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New Arizona law limits dental therapists to tribal settings, underserved areas

May 30, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

Phoenix — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation May 16 that allows dental therapists to work in tribal settings, federally qualified health centers, federal look-alike facilities, community health centers and private dental practices that contract with FQHCs.

The Arizona Senate passed the legislation in April, and the state House OK’d it May 3.

The new law, which takes effect Aug. 3, requires a dental therapist to be a licensed dental hygienist and successfully pass a Western Regional Examining Board clinical competency examination or its equivalent. It also “requires the Arizona Board of Dental Examiners to establish a uniform and reasonable standard of minimum education requirements consistent with accreditation standards of the [ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation.]”

The law also requires dental therapists to first work 1,000 hours under an Arizona licensed dentist before they may enter into a collaboration agreement that permits them to work under general supervision. Dental therapists are also not permitted to bill third party payers or the public for their services.

Additionally, it calls for the Arizona Department of Health Services to conduct a study concerning the impact of licensing dental therapists on patient safety, cost effectiveness and access to dental services.