Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law new state regulations that allow dental hygienists to perform more tasks, such as pulling loose baby teeth, scraping away tooth decay with a hand instrument, and providing temporary fillings, according to the Wichita Business Journal.
The Kansas City Star reports the measure is intended to help alleviate a shortage of dentists, especially in poor and rural areas. There are 93 counties in Kansas that don’t have enough dentists to serve their residents, and 13 others don’t even have a dentist.
However, some say the changes don't go far enough, saying Kansas should create a new dental practitioner classification that can perform even more dental tasks.
The bill also requires the Board of Regents to add more slots for Kansas residents at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Dental School. Those students would be required to work in underserved areas of Kansas for at least four years after graduation.
Other states have considered similar bills, but only Alaska and Minnesota have comparable laws.