NJ needs more dental providers, Matsikoudis bill would help

NJ needs more dental providers, Matsikoudis bill would help

Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis

TRENTON, N.J. – A shortage among the state’s dentists and dental hygienists is compromising New Jerseyans’ oral health care. Addressing critical gaps in the workforce, the Assembly Health Committee passed Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis’ bill entering New Jersey into an interstate compact for licensed dental providers. 

“New Jersey is limited in the number of dental hygienists we can produce, which makes it difficult for dentists to practice. These labor shortages are creating delays in important preventative dental treatments. When patients are unable to get the care they need, New Jersey needs to find a solution,” Matsikoudis (R-Union) said. 

New Jersey’s five dental hygiene schools produce about 100 hygienists a year for the state’s nearly 6,000 dental practices. 

“Licensure reciprocity programs have proven to help address workforce shortages, increase access to care and decrease regulatory burdens for health care providers,” Matsikoudis said. “Removing the red tape for licensed and trained dental professionals to practice across state lines will also help New Jersey’s military members and their spouses, making it easier for them to continue their employment.”

Under the bill (A1896), dentists and dental hygienists licensed in a state that is a member of the compact would be authorized to work in other member states without obtaining additional licenses. The compact would take effect when it is adopted in at least seven states. To date, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Iowa and Washington have enacted legislation. It is pending in 12 other states including New Jersey. 

“Regular visits to the dentist should start from an early age to best prevent and treat tooth decay. Breaking down the barriers for professionals and patients through programs like this compact makes New Jersey a better place to live and work. A healthy smile improves one’s overall health and outlook,” Matsikoudis said.