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Article: Dental Assistants May Have New Role DR. JERRY GORDON
Expanded Function Dental Assistants (EFDA) are dental assistants that have additional training and are able to do everything that the usual dental assistant can, but also fill teeth after the dentist has prepared them.

Expanded Function Dental Assistants (EFDA) are dental assistants that have additional training and are able to do everything that the usual dental assistant can, but also fill teeth after the dentist has prepared them. A new bill written here in Pennsylvania, HB 602, would allow EFDAs, under direct supervision of a dentist, to perform the important steps of administering fluoride treatments, taking impressions for athletic appliances, and polishing teeth. It would also add two members to the State Board of Dentistry: a dentist and an EFDA who has been practicing as an EFDA for three years.

Dental assistants are a very important part of the dental team. They help the dentist and their patients by taking x-rays, making preliminary impressions or molds, suctioning while the dentist is preparing teeth, seating and greeting patients, making temporary crowns (also caps), keeping the treatment rooms clean and well stocked, sterilizing instruments, making patients feel relaxed and welcome, and other important duties. An EFDA is a dental assistant that has taken additional training and is also allowed to place white or silver fillings into teeth after the dentist prepares them. This can help patients get their fillings completed sooner in some cases, and frees the dentist up to do more complicated procedures like root canal, preparing crowns (also caps), and oral surgery.

The bill, HB 602, that would allow EFDA's to provide fluoride treatment, polish teeth, and take impressions can help patients receive these services in a timely manner when the dentist or dental hygienist is seeing other patients. Having the dentist supervise these treatments is critical to maintaining high quality care. This bill is very different from the unsupervised Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner (ADHP) bill recently passed in Minnesota. For this reason, I support HB 602, and would encourage other dentists to do so. Recent developments are encouraging that this bill will soon become law

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Dr. Gordon is the dental columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times. He has published more than 300 articles since 1998. Dr. Gordon was recently asked to provide commentary about mid-level providers for the influential dental journal Dental Abstracts.

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