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Dental Practitioner Proposals Pose Considerable Health, Financial Risks

Pierce County Dental Society President Dr. Sammy Pak penned an editorial last week in the Tacoma News Tribune. The piece was in response to an editorial written in support of SB 6126 which would allow midlevel providers to perform surgical procedures without the on-site supervision of a dentist. Here's the piece:

Re: “Our state’s dental system is letting too many patients down” (Viewpoint, 1-29).

Anita Rodriguez recently argued on this page for a new category of mid-level dental provider authorized to practice independently from a dentist.

Rodriguez explained that many dentists oppose this proposal because of concerns for safety and quality of care. She also argued that such practitioners are much the same as the nurse-practitioners of 50 years ago – a profession once opposed by the establishment and now embraced by it.

I wanted to provide some clarity on many dentists’ views on this matter.

Rodriguez is writing in particular about two bills that are currently being considered by our Legislature. Both would create practitioners who, with an unspecified amount of training after high school, could perform irreversible procedures that include drilling and extractions without the on-site supervision of a dentist.

We have three concerns with these bills.

 • We are concerned about the seriousness of the procedures these mid-level practitioners could perform. The measures would allow dental therapists to do surgical procedures including pulpotomies (root canals on primary teeth), drilling for cavity preparation and extractions.

These procedures are irreversible and could be performed by an individual with a GED, an unspecific amount of training and no competency testing. There is no precedent for this mid-level practitioner anywhere else.

To Rodriguez’s point about nurse practitioners: Nurse practitioners cannot perform surgical procedures, and in our state they are required to receive a master’s or doctoral degree.

 • We are concerned about fracturing the dental home for patients. Under the structure of these bills, a patient with complications from a practitioner’s procedure would need to rush to a dentist to address the issue or wait for the dentist to come to him or her. Nearly every dentist can tell a recent story of a procedure that was more complicated than he or she expected.

Click to read more ...


Pasco Dentists Host Children's Community Dental Day

Last week volunteers from the Benton and Franklin Community Health Alliance provided free dental care to children under the age of fifteen. Click here for the complete story. If you would like to showcase your charitable care event on the WSDA blog please contact or


The Washington State Science and Engineering Fair needs you!


Golden Apple-winner Dr. Mike Huey is looking for judges — lots of them. "We need about 200 judges for the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair," Huey said recently, "It's a lot of fun, but we have thousands of entries!"

Anyone who has a desire to promote the advancement of the sciences and science education can participate as a judge at the event. Those judging the high school division will require more specialized knowledge in a particular field, while judges for lower grades will be more focused on encouragement for the future. New judges will be paired with more experienced judges, which will make things easier and more enjoyable for first-timers.

Volunteer judges are expected to evaluate projects in an impartial manner while applying the judging guidelines and provide positive feedback to the student. It's a fun and interesting way to give back to the state, so come and help out. To sign up to be a judge, go here. For a brochure with additional information, click here


Register online today for the PNDC and save even more!

REGISTER ONLINE AND SAVE $25 ·  Online registration is fast, easy, and lets you see what workshops are available in real time, making getting that perfect PNDC schedule a breeze. Plus, by registering online, you’ll save the $25 processing fee. Register online before April 30 to qualify for the Early Bird rate, too!

Don’t want to register online? We still want you to come to the PNDC! Simply download the registration form found here, complete it for your dental team, and either print and fax it to us, or scan and email it to us — just be advised that there is a $25 processing fee for EACH form you fax or email. Questions? Call us at 800-448-3368.