Regulate Dental Therapists
On and after May 1, 2023, the act prohibits a person from practicing dental therapy in the state unless licensed by the Colorado dental board (board). A licensed dental therapist is authorized to deliver routine and preventive dental care.
A person who desires to qualify for practice as a dental therapist must file with the board a written application for a license, proof of graduation from a school of dental therapy or a dental therapy program that meets the requirements of the act, and proof of completion of a clinical examination for dental therapy that:
- Is designed to test the applicant's clinical dental therapy skills and knowledge;
- Includes dental therapy restorative and dental hygiene clinical skill evaluation; and
- Is administered by a regional testing agency composed of at least 4 states or an examination of another state.
A dental therapist is allowed to practice only under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist until the dental therapist practices for 1,000 hours. After reaching 1,000 hours, the dental therapist may practice under the indirect supervision of a licensed dentist pursuant to a written articulated plan. The articulated plan must include:
- Methods of dentist supervision, consultation, and approval;
- Protocols for informed consent, record keeping, quality assurance, and dispensing or administering medications;
- Policies for handling referrals when a patient needs services the dental therapist is not authorized or qualified to provide;
- Protocols for assessment of dental disease and the formulation of an individualized treatment plan authorized by the supervising dentist;
- Policies for handling medical emergencies; and
- Policies for supervising dental assistants and working with dental hygienists and other dental practitioners and staff.
A licensed dental therapist must maintain professional liability insurance in an amount not less than $500,000 per incident and $1.5 million annual aggregate per year; except that this requirement is not applicable to a dental therapist who is a public employee under the "Colorado Governmental Immunity Act".
A state institution of higher education offering an accredited dental therapy training program may grant advanced standing toward completion of an accredited dental therapy program if a student meets the conditions specified in the act.
Effective July 1, 2031, the act modifies the composition of the board by replacing 2 members, one dental hygienist and one member representing the public at large, with 2 dental therapists.
To implement the act, for the 2022-23 state fiscal year, $14,786 is appropriated to the department of regulatory agencies from the division of professions and occupations cash fund for reappropriation to the department of law.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)