Lawmakers aim to increase dental care access

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Sixty-three of Florida’s 67 counties have areas with a shortage of dental care professionals. Lawmakers say the lack of access afflicts one in four Floridians.

Steve Snodgrass / CC BY 2.0 / MGN

To help increase access to affordable dental care, State Senator Jeff Brandes has filed a bill that would authorize dental therapists in Florida. The position would require less schooling than a traditional dentist but would be able to perform many of the same procedures only dentists are allowed to perform under state law.

“We have millions of people who are under served in this space and this creates for us an opportunity to lead in the country by allowing Dental therapists and to grow a new profession and to create a new pathway for individuals in the state," said Brandes.

The Florida Dental Association opposes the legislation, arguing it could take between five and six years to fully implement. Instead, the association favors legislation that would incentivize more dentists to work in areas with care shortages by helping graduates pay off their student loans.