Do dental hygienists fill cavities?

A hygienist does not diagnose or treat dental problems and cannot perform fillings, extractions, or other procedures that require a degree in dentistry. However, they can help the dentist with these procedures and play a crucial role as an extra pair of hands. BOSTON (AP) Do you need to remove a tooth or fill a cavity? Forget about the dentist. A number of states allow or are considering allowing “dental therapists,” professionals with a lower level of training, to do the job.

In short, dentists treat damaged teeth and oral infections, while dental hygienists perform preventive procedures. Many offices now have dental therapists who perform some of the most routine tasks, allowing dentists to do more specialized work. The measure would not specify the level of education of therapists, but it requires that they meet the standards of a national dental accreditation commission. Fogarty, a dental hygienist for 13 years before training to become a dental therapist, said her work includes fillings, temporary crowns and extractions.

The dental hygienist and therapist cannot stop prescribing the treatment without consulting the dentist (or colleague) who prescribed it, so sometimes it is necessary to involve the dentist if the treatment plan needs to be partially changed. Under another bill backed by the Pew Charitable Trusts and other advocacy groups, dental therapists would work collaboratively with dentists, but would be allowed to perform procedures under “general” rather than direct supervision, meaning that the dentist would not have to be physically present. That is changing with a new California law that authorizes dental hygienists to treat cavities without the need for an on-site dentist by placing temporary, low-cost fillings. After teaching and practicing on artificial teeth in the classroom, hygienists who were being trained on Saturday walked through rows of dental chairs at the clinic on the fourth floor of the Anaheim campus to fill the teeth of volunteer patients who were offered the procedure free of charge.

Although one day he would like to have permanent fillings made for him, for now Karunaratne is happy that his financial difficulties don't cause his dental health to deviate from his dental health. A hygienist does not diagnose or treat dental problems and cannot perform fillings, extractions, or other procedures that require a dental degree. We understand that things happen and that you lead a busy life, but keeping up with your regular visits to the dentist can prevent serious oral problems in the future. The dentist may also prescribe medications such as antibiotics or pain medications, or prescription mouthwashes, something a hygienist cannot do.

Leading this initiative is Paul Glassman, professor of dental practice at the University of the Pacific who spent years developing a low-cost model of care. Shore is one of the first dental hygienists in Southern California to receive certification to apply fillings, called temporary therapeutic restorations, under the law that took effect in January. Dentists often don't accept Medicaid because of low reimbursement rates, and the dental procedures it covers vary from state to state. A dental hygienist works under the supervision of a licensed dentist and is the first dental worker to have their teeth checked.