Members of the New Mexico Oral Health Advisory (NMOHAC) brought to light many items impacting the oral health of New Mexican’s at its most recent meeting. The NMOHAC is comprised of dental healthcare providers, state officials and others committed to improving oral health and access to dental services in New Mexico.
Chair of NM Dental Board Predicts at Least One Year for Dental Bill Regulations to Go Into Effect – While Governor Susana Martinez signed HB 187 a bill to amend the NM Dental Health Care Act into law on April 7, the NM Dental Board has yet to review and begin drafting regulations that make the provisions in HB 187 a reality, according to Jessica Brewster, DDS current chair of the NM Dental Board. Hygienists and others at the meeting expressed concerns that a year was too long. They felt that some provisions could be enacted sooner and shouldn’t be held up by other more complex provisions. Dr. Brewster agreed to look into whether the regulations could be enacted in sections so that less complex provisions could be finalized and enacted before other provisions.
Provisions of HB 187 include:
- Slightly expanding dental hygienist scope of practice to allow hygienists to provide anesthetic services without the supervision of a dentist and allows hygienists to assess for sealants.
- Creating a community dental health coordinator (CDHC) who are not providers, and can only provide prevention awareness information and can transport patients to dentists.
- Creates an opportunity for dental assistants and dental hygienists to with additional training provide additional services beyond their scope under the in-person supervision of a dentist.
- Allows for a temporary 3-day public service licensure for out-of-state dentists and hygienists to participate in charity dental service events such as Mission of Mercy.
Exciting New Changes for UNM’s Dental Programs
- UNM’s dental services and dental hygiene divisions are now under their own new dental department, the UNM Department of Dental Medicine. Previously they were housed under the UNM Department of Surgery.
- New Facility for UNM Dental Residency Program opened its new state of the art training and clinical facility late in August located near UNM Hospital.
- After completing their one-year residency, most of UNM’s residency program’s graduates stay in the state and practice in the area of public health.
HB 187 Regulations Will Determine if NY Medical Center Can Place Dental Residents in NM – For a number of years the Lutheran Medical Center based in New York has wanted to place dental residents in New Mexico. The medical center and others including the NM Primary Care Association argue that allowing these residents to practice in NM would increase access to dental services in our state and hope that the regulations in HB 187 will allow this to happen. While HB 187 allows dental residents to obtain a 12-month temporary public service licensure to practice in NM, the law states that the dental residents must be “in a residency program in the state.” The sticking point is how to define “a residency program in the state.” Must it be like UNM’s dental residency program or would a dental resident practicing in the state meet this requirement? Some expressed concerns about whether there would be enough NM licensed dentists who are trained to appropriately supervise out-of-state residents who are practicing in rural and remote parts of our state.
State and Bernalillo County to Apply for CDC Community Transformation Grant – This grant would provide communities with funds to pursue and provide clinical health prevention programs in their communities. If awarded, the NM Office of Oral Health hopes to use some of the grant funding to support its oral health prevention programs for elementary school-age and adolescent children.