From an article at Governing.com:
…dental care is hard to come by in underserved areas of the country. Try finding a dentist in the remotest rural or deepest urban pockets of the land, and for blatantly economic reasons, they just aren’t there. That’s why states are looking to fix the problem by creating a so-called mid-level dental provider. Much like a nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) is to a doctor, this provider would be educated and licensed to perform basic dental services — routine checkups, cleanings, filling cavities and extracting teeth — under the supervision of a fully trained dentist.
…Yet in much the same way that the American Medical Association fought against the creation of NPs and PAs, the American Dental Association (ADA) and its state chapters are lobbying hard to thwart state legislatures as they work to create this new level of dental care providers, who are common and well liked in other parts of the world.
…“Publicly their main objection is safety issues,” Oswald says. “They tried to discredit the model, saying the therapists were not trained to the same level as dentists. In reality, all the research around the world shows that [mid-level providers] provide as good, if not better, care. Every time they stated safety as a factor, we asked for research, which they didn’t have.”
By the way, states with tougher licensing of dentists do not have better dentistry, but they do have higher prices. Almost thirty percent of the US workforce is now required to hold a license including shampoo specialists.
Hat tip: Carpe Diem