THE SOLUTION.

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  • HB 997 and SB 1444, filed by Rep. Melony Bell and Sen. Jason Brodeur, eliminate unnecessary barriers to oral care, especially for those who can least afford it. The bills also increase the dental workforce in Florida.

  • HB 997 and SB 1444 expand access to dental care by adding locations where mobile dental units can provide services.

  • Mobile dental units provide critical dental services to vulnerable populations who may not otherwise be able to see a dentist at county health departments and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).

  • This bill significantly expands the locations where mobile dental units can provide care to include:

    • Programs or institutions of the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, the Department of Juvenile Justice;

    • Nonprofit community health centers;

    • Head Start centers;

    • Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) or look-alikes as defined by federal law;

    • School-based prevention programs; and

    • Clinics operated by accredited colleges of dentistry or accredited dental hygiene programs;

    • Homeless shelters; and

    • Group homes for adults with disabilities.

  • HB 997 and SB 1444 remove barriers for Floridians to receive dental care in health access settings.

    • The bills enable dental hygienists to apply temporary fillings to prevent the progression of decay in health access settings. Dental hygienists are already authorized to place and remove temporary fillings and dental sealants; this updates the locations where they can perform these actions to ensure that the vulnerable populations can get the care they need. This action can effectively delay tooth decay until a patient can see a dentist.

    • The bills eliminate a requirement for children to see a dentist before their teeth can be cleaned. For those who cannot access or afford a dentist, this change will enable them to seek and receive care and education on good oral health that was previously prohibited.

  • HB 997 and SB 1444 increase Florida’s dental hygienist workforce by removing barriers for exams to become a Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH).

    • Currently, dental hygienists are required to perform their exam on a live patient. This requirement only exists in 11 states across the nation, preventing licensed dental hygienists in 39 other states from practicing in Florida.

    • Removing the barrier will invite experienced workers to help expand the workforce and dental access here in Florida.