Rep. Ivy Spohnholz’s bill to expand access to dental care passes House

JUNEAU – Rep. Ivy Spohnholz saw her legislation to broaden Alaskans’ access to dental care pass the House floor today in a vote of 34-1. If passed, HB 111 will establish a special permit to allow experienced, Alaska-licensed dental hygienists to provide preventative oral health care to underserved populations.

 

“Oral hygiene plays a critical role in people’s overall health and there are too many Alaskans falling between the cracks when it comes to their dental health,” said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage). “Allowing for our well qualified dental hygienists to more widely apply their trade will greatly expand our pool of practitioners, address dental issues at earlier stages of development, and help us reach Alaskans who would otherwise go untreated.”

 

If enacted, HB 111 would establish an Advanced Practice Permit for already licensed dental hygienists, allowing them to work independently. The intent is to empower dental hygienists to use their professional skills in settings where Alaskans reside, such as nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and clinics. By removing traditional barriers of service, more Alaskans can achieve better healthcare outcomes and address oral problems at earlier stages.

 

HB 111 is widely supported by the industry, and has been endorsed by the Alaska Dental Hygienists’ Association, Alaska Dental Society, Alaska Board of Dental Examiners, Alaska Native Health Board, Alaska Primary Care Association.

 

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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