The North Carolina Rules Review Commission has approved a rule change that allows dental hygienists working in high-need areas to provide preventive care like fluoride treatments and sealants without a dentist present.
Nearly 2.5 million North Carolina residents live in areas with a shortage of dental care, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data.
Under the rule change, hygienists can’t open their own practices, but they can offer services in public health settings like schools and free clinics. Dental hygienists usually have at least two years of training.
Proponents of the change say it will help more residents get the dental care they need. Cabarrus, Union, Catawba and Cleveland counties are some of the state’s counties with a shortage of dental care.
Barring any objections, the modified rule is expected to take effect Feb. 1.