The staff of the Federal Trade Commission urged the Georgia Board of Dentistry to reject a proposal that would prohibit dental hygienists from providing basic preventive dental services in approved public health settings except under the indirect supervision of a dentist. In a written comment letter to the Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Georgia Secretary of State, the FTC staff explained that, while there is no evidence that such supervision is necessary to prevent harm to dental patients, the proposed rule amendments likely would raise the cost of dental services in Georgia and reduce the number of consumers receiving dental care.
The FTC staff is especially concerned that the proposed changes to the rule, which could be interpreted to restrict hygienists from performing services such as sealant and fluoride treatments at approved facilities unless a dentist had previously examined the patient and ordered the treatment, would harm the state’s most vulnerable consumers. The lack of dental care is a particular problem for children in rural and low-income communities, the FTC staff comment states, and dental hygienists play an important role in delivering care to these communities. In addition, according to the staff, the notice announcing the proposed amendments cites no evidence that allowing hygienists to continue to perform these types of dental services in facilities without direct supervision has harmed, or will harm, patients.
The Commission vote approving the staff comment was 5-0. It was sent to the Professional Licensing Boards Division on December 29, 2010. Copies of the comment can be found now on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release. (FTC File No. V110001; the staff contact is Susan S. DeSanti, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2210.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.