On January 15, 2009 as one of the final acts in the 2006-2008 legislative session, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law landmark legislation that for the first time, allowed registered dental hygienists, without the supervision of a dentist, the ability to see patients in public health settings such as schools, community health centers, and nursing homes. Chapter 530 of the Acts of 2008 - AN ACT TO IMPROVE, PROMOTE AND PROTECT THE ORAL HEALTH OF THE COMMONWEALTH. This changes allows Massachusetts Hygienists to practice as Public Health Dental Hygienists "PHDH."
This bill was sponsored by State Senator Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester. This change in law was initiated by hygienists who were troubled by the fact that thousands of residents in Massachusetts, primarily of lower income, were lacking access to either a dentist or a hygienist. Massachusetts hygienists have now joined 30 other states in providing these important preventive oral health care services.
The Commonwealth requirements for PHDH practice are as follows: