Dental Assisting Professional Model Workgroup to hold first meeting

Silhouette of diverse professionals working together

A group of nearly 20 dental professionals representing numerous leading dental organizations have joined together to form the Dental Assisting Professional Model Workgroup, which will hold its first meeting later this month.

Dentistry is experiencing significant challenges related to the dental assisting workforce, including insufficient numbers of qualified dental assistants, which has resulted in dental practices facing reduced capacity, efficiency, and productivity. The goal of the workgroup is to address a fundamental element underlying these challenges — the inconsistency in dental assisting requirements and scope of practice from state to state.

“State definitions of dental assistants’ scopes of practice and exam, education, and credential requirements shape the careers of dental assistants,” said Katherine Landsberg, DANB’s Director of Government Relations. “Because these elements vary significantly from state to state, there is no shared national understanding of what dental assistants do and how they can advance, which makes it difficult to attract and retain candidates looking for a long-term career. The workgroup will lay the foundation for solutions that will support dental assistant workforce recruitment, retention, development and progression, while also enhancing patient care and public protection.”

The workgroup will develop a framework that aims to:

  • Elevate the dental assisting profession and attract more candidates to the field
  • Provide a road map for career growth that will support recruitment and retention of dental assistants over the long term
  • Improve professional mobility of dental assistants from state to state
  • Increase practice efficiency and enhance access to care
  • Provide states with a straightforward framework for regulation that reflects the needs of dentistry

The framework will contain definitions of dental assisting levels and scope of duties, proposed standards for the education and training of dental assistants, model legislation and regulations that can serve as a template for state legislators and regulators, and guidance and resources for implementation.

The workgroup includes dental assistants, dentists, educators, dental hygienists, and regulators. Members of the workgroup were nominated by these organizations:

  • American Dental Association
  • American Association of Dental Administrators
  • American Association of Dental Boards
  • American Dental Assistants Association
  • American Dental Education Association
  • American Dental Hygienists’ Association
  • Association of Dental Support Organizations
  • Dental Assisting National Board
  • The DALE Foundation
  • Hispanic Dental Association
  • National Network for Oral Health Access

“By bringing together a diverse and comprehensive array of perspectives and expertise, the workgroup will be positioned to develop a framework that not only reflects the dynamic nature of dental assisting, but also aligns with the evolving needs of the oral healthcare profession,” Landsberg added.

Prior to forming the workgroup, which will be led by third-party facilitators, DANB commissioned a series of listening sessions and surveys to better understand the dental industry’s perspectives on the current landscape of dental assisting laws, regulations, and scope of practice. The results of these surveys will be released in the coming weeks on DANB’s website.