2017 Proposed Legislation to Increase Access to Oral Health Care Services

2017 Proposed Legislation to Increase Access to Oral Health Care Services


In an effort to improve access to dental care for rural, tribal and underserved urban New Mexicans, legislation is being proposed to address important access-to- care issues and to create a new midlevel oral health care practitioner.

In 2015, the New Mexico Senate created a task force with the objective of crafting dental therapy legislation with the input of oral health professionals, including a bi-partisan group of lawmakers. The legislation proposes to:

  • create a sub-committee to make recommendations relating to dental Medicaid improvements and potential loan forgiveness options for dental professionals practicing in high-need areas.
  • facilitate a BA/DDS program similar to the successful BA/MD program at UNM
  • require a dental examination for children before entering school for the first
  • create a dental therapist, who is a licensed dental hygienist with additional education, who will practice in underserved areas and work collaboratively with a supervising dentist, performing preventive and limited restorative functions.

Poor oral health has been linked to many medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Increasing access to oral health care services has the potential for improving total health and reducing health care costs. The proposed legislation is supported by many professional health and community organizations.

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