By Dave Thompson - Prairie Public
February 11, 2015
A Senate committee is hearing a bill that would allow dental hygienists to provide enhanced dental treatments in underserved areas of North Dakota.
"A dental hygienist could be doing some fillings, some very simple extractions, as well as the preventative services that we're already trained to do," said Rachelle Gustafson of Grand Forks, the president of the North Dakota Dental Hygienists Association. "We are hoping with this that we can bring dental care to all citizens of North Dakota."
AARP supports the bill. Mike Tomasko is on AARP North Dakota’s executive council. He says the same arguments were part of the debate several years ago – when nurses and physician assistants were given more authority.
"Doctors' salaries didn't go down," said Tomasko. "But access went up. And that's what's important."
Tomasko says the Family Health Center in Fargo would love to have dentists on staff – but it can’t pay very much, so using hygienists would help.