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AAO Advocacy in Washington State Comes to a Successful Conclusion

The advocacy efforts of the AAO, in cooperation with the Washington State Society of Orthodontists and AAO/WSSO members in Washington, have reached a successful conclusion.

As previously reported, in 2018, the Washington Dental Quality Assurance Commission (“Commission”) proposed revisions to section 246-817-550 of the Washington Administrative Code, which governs acts that may be performed by licensed dental hygienists under general supervision. The proposed rule would have significantly added to the listed tasks, including orthodontic tasks, hygienists are permitted to perform under only general supervision, rather than close supervision.

Through the Component Legal Support fund, the AAO legal and advocacy department submitted public comments and attended several meetings in the interests of patient health and safety. Approximately 15 Washington orthodontists, organized by WSSO Legislative Chair Dr. Michelle Neal, also attended a public hearing and spoke against the proposed rule revisions. In March, the Commission voted unanimously to send the proposed rule back to the Rules Committee for revision. The Rules Committee agreed with the AAO’s comments to remove the majority of the orthodontic tasks. The only orthodontic tasks a dental hygienist may perform under general supervision are subsections (32) place and remove orthodontic separators; and (33) select and fit orthodontic bands, try in fixed or removable orthodontic appliances prior to the dentist cementing or checking the appliance.

At its July meeting, the Commission voted to accept the revised rules. The new rules are now in effect and can be viewed here.

The AAO Component Legal Support Fund, established by a vote of the 2015 House of Delegates, provides grants to component organizations to assist with state legal and legislative issues that impact orthodontic practices. To date, the CLSF is assisting over 25 components with a number of issues.

Please note, individuals and patients can choose to contact their state, territory, or provincial dental boards or authorities (https://www.aaoinfo.org/aao/state-dental-board-info) (last visited October 15, 2019), their state Attorney General’s consumer protection office (https://www.usa.gov/state-consumer) (last visited October 15, 2019) or provincial consumer affairs office (http://www.consumerhandbook.ca/en/contacts/provincial-territorial-offices) (last visited October 15, 2019), regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) – (https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/contact-fda) (last visited October 15, 2019), and their elected officials (e.g. Governor, state representative, etc.) about dental issues.