Dental Therapy News Update
Licensing Rules Move Into Final Approval Phase
Thank you for your continued interest in the extended process of establishing dental therapy practice in Michigan. While it's been nearly two years since former Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation to enact Public Act 463 of 2018 authorizing dental therapists in our state, we are finally seeing the path forward to licensing!

Since early 2019 when it officially began, the licensing rules process has moved forward, but then faced significant delays due to the impact of COVID-19 this year. We're excited to share the news that, following the September public hearing, the draft licensing rules were approved by the state Board of Dentistry on November 12.

Thank you to those who were able to submit comments in support of the draft rules. We believe the rules as presented are substantially in keeping with the legislative intent of the statute and will create a sound regulatory structure for this new profession in our state. The rules now move into the final stages with LARA, followed by presentation to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

Legislation Clarifies Supervision of Practice Hours
We can also update you on another step in the dental therapy journey for Michigan that has moved forward--Rep. Jason Sheppard's legislation, House Bill 5827 which sought to address one issue that couldn't be clarified through the licensing rules language, was passed by the Senate December 10 and now awaits the Governor's signature. HB 5827 will amend the Public Health Code to allow the required hours of clinical practice to be supervised by a dentist licensed in the state where the educational program is located, not limiting it to a Michigan dentist. This is welcome news for students who may choose to attend school out of state while Michigan works to see educational programs begin.

Welcome Misty Davis, Oral Health Program Specialist
We are happy to introduce Misty Davis, the new Oral Health Program Specialist for the Michigan Primary Care Association. Misty will be primarily responsible for advancing and promoting dental therapists in Michigan and providing support to member FQHCs and other organizations that are interested in educating and employing dental therapists.

She shares--"I hope to be a valuable resource for you moving forward and I welcome your questions, discussion, and feedback. As a clinical dental hygienist for the past 13 years and an advocate for improving access to care, I am thrilled to be part of this effort. Through my involvement with the Michigan Dental Hygienists’ Association, I have seen the great strides Michigan has taken toward improving access to dental care in underserved communities as well as improving the equity of dental care provision, dental program education, and employment in the dental field. It is my pleasure to have a role in this important work and I will do my best to keep you all updated on its progress."

Questions for Misty? Contact her at mdavis@mpca.net.
 
Dental Therapy in the News
In November the trade journal Dimensions of Dental Hygiene published a report--Expanding Dental Therapy Education Programs--that examines the three dental therapy training programs currently running in the U.S. and the need for successful implementation of educational programs to meet growing interest in the profession.
This piece--Dental Therapists Provide Essential Care During COVID-19--examines how dental therapists in Washington practicing in tribal clinics implemented several effective strategies to support oral health during the pandemic.

Thank you again for your ongoing interest and support of dental therapy in Michigan. We'll continue to share updates via e-mail and at midentalaccess.org.
MI Dental Access Coalition| midentalaccess.org