The federal government has changed its rules for issuing medical-school diplomas.
That means the new examiners are now required to be licensed in order to perform dental work, and they must have dental experience.
But some dentists and dentists’ associations are concerned the new standards won’t apply to the profession.
What are the rules?
The National Dental Association says the new requirements will affect only about 5 percent of dental students who are able to receive a degree in dental medicine.
But they say dentists can still apply to get a license and could be impacted.
“The examiners that are going to be required to go through the licensing process will be dentists, so that’s not necessarily the case with dental hygienists,” says Dr. Elizabeth A. Shafroth, a professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
That’s because dental hygeineers have to be able to pass a course in general medicine, which is a subspecialty of dentistry, or the state’s licensing requirements.
For example, if you want to get an associate’s degree, you might be able’t do the general-dental courses.
Shafroth says a recent survey by the association shows that only about 2 percent of dentists have dental hygerineers.
Some dentists say the changes will make it harder for them to practice.
“I think the most impactful thing for a dentist to do now is to get certified, because the only way that they can practice in their practice is to have that credential,” says Jennifer P. Wertheim, a registered nurse who works at a nursing home in Virginia.
Wertheim says she would like to practice dentistry in her own community, but she worries that her colleagues will not be able access the training.
She says she’ll need to take the state exam in order for her to practice in her community.
Dentists and their unions say the new regulations are necessary to protect the health of the profession and its patients.
The American Dental Associations and the American Derm Association, which represent more than 4 million dentists across the country, have not yet said whether they’ll support the new rules.
This story was updated to correct the spelling of Jennifer P.-Wertheimer’s name.