Remediable Tasks Delegable to Dental Assistants and Hygienists

Did you know that the Florida Dental Association (FDA) website has a chart of remediable tasks delegable to dental assistants and hygienists? This member-only benefit lists the various remediable tasks with the corresponding level of supervision required. In addition, it lists the level of training required before the assistant or hygienist can perform the task.

To access the chart, please visit floridadental.org/advocacy/delegation-of-duties. To view the entire rule of tasks delegable to dental hygienists and assistants, please visit bit.ly/2PSBtAC.

For a full list of the rules governing the practice of dentistry please visit: bit.ly/39LLt5U.

If you have further questions on remediable tasks, supervision levels or other Florida Board of Dentistry (BOD) rules, please contact BOD Liaison Dr. Joe Calderone at drcalderone@gmail.com or FDA Director of Third Party Payers and Professional Affairs Ms. Casey Stoutamire at cstoutamire@floridadental.org.


Reprinted from Today’s FDA, May/June 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

Oral Health Education for Kids

By Karen P. Buckenheimer, RN, BSN, Executive Director

Students are back in school! Well, hopefully. Faced with the ever-growing concerns of COVID-19, oral health may be the last thing on anyone’s mind. But tooth decay is the most common disease of childhood, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In fact, prior to the pandemic, tooth pain was the No. 1 reason children missed school.

For 30 years, I’ve had the honor to work for an amazing nonprofit, MORE HEALTH. Located in Tampa, we teach health and safety education lessons to students in grades K-12 throughout the Tampa Bay region. The first lesson we taught in 1989 was a dental health lesson for second grade students. Today, we offer 25 interactive lessons focused on providing valuable information to help kids and families stay safe and make healthy choices.

Teaching oral health is fun, rewarding, and sometimes surprising. Using an interactive kinesthetic style of teaching, we teach students how to brush their teeth, the importance of eating healthy foods and drinks, and encourage them to visit the dentist twice a year. Due to the pandemic, we transformed our in-person, hands-on lessons to high-energy virtual lessons. We now offer virtual oral health lessons throughout Florida and beyond.

Just last month, MORE HEALTH taught oral health to more than 1,100 adults and children attending the FDA Foundation’s Florida Mission of Mercy. Many of the patients did not know the basics. They asked questions such as how to brush their teeth, how cavities are formed and how often. Many were shocked to see the amount of sugar in a can of soda or sports drink. One even asked if they could use laundry bleach to whiten their teeth!

The dental visit is one of the most important teaching opportunities. Dentists are in a prime position to not only provide care to patients, but also reinforce the importance of oral health. Taking just a few minutes to talk with your patients about their hygiene habits can really make a difference. Most people are visual learners, so use a mouth model and toothbrush to show proper brushing. Another idea is to fill a jar with 10 teaspoons of sugar and hold next to a can of soda when you talk about drinking non-sugared drinks. Emphasize eating fruits and veggies and drinking fluoridated water. We use catchy phrases such as “just a dot, not a lot” when talking about fluoride toothpaste or remember the “2 + 2+ 2 rule” (brush two times a day, for two minutes and see your dentist twice a year). The few minutes you spend teaching your patients will definitely help them to be more compliant and have better oral health.

Even though this is basic information that you may feel everyone knows, hearing from the dental expert — you — means so much more. Teaching doesn’t stop in the office setting. Use every opportunity you can to reinforce the importance of oral health as it relates to overall health. Embrace teaching moments wherever you are — on the soccer field, on the golf course, at church or at the grocery store! Volunteer at the Great American Teach-in and visit your local schools and Boys and Girls Clubs. Enjoy getting involved in your community and take advantage of those teaching moments. Your expertise and advice will be appreciated and accepted. The kindness demonstrated that you truly care will help make you an integral and respected member in your community. It’s worth the effort.


MORE HEALTH, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, trains instructors to deliver interactive, exciting health education lessons to students, at no charge to school districts, through funding from local businesses, foundations, and state and federal grants. For more information, visit morehealthinc.org or call 813.287.5032.

Opinion: Dental Insurance Next Industry That Badly Needs Reform

By Yaël Ossowski, Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director

In the last decade, most debate and discussion on reforms related to health care have focused on Americans’ general health insurance plans and costs. And for good reason.

And though our health system is convoluted and complicated, it gets even more complex when we examine what is happening with dental care.

The intersection of hefty insurance premiums, confusing government benefits and a red tape bonanza keep many Americans from ever visiting a dentist’s office.

Even though 80% of Americans have access to dental benefits, nearly 35% of American adults didn’t visit a dentist in 2019, according to the National Association of Dental Plans.

The reason so many neglect getting their teeth checked is clear in the data: the mounting cost. And modern dental insurance, coupled with myriad various government programs, is a big reason for that.

Unlike most health care plans, dental plans have low caps on the number of benefits they will pay out, anywhere between $1,000-$1,500 a year. Premiums average $30-$50 per month depending on the plan and the number of people covered.

Because patients use dental insurance to cover all aspects of their care, rather than emergencies, this adds to an inflation of the price of rudimentary care, a phenomenon dubbed the “social consequences problem” by economists.

That problem gets even more complicated considering that nearly all dental patients don’t choose their plans themselves.

At present, 93% of privately insured dental patients receive coverage from their employers, meaning there is little incentive to innovate direct-to-consumer options that would offer competition.

This incentive problem, along with a relatively opaque dental insurance market, means costs will continue to rise unless we can agree on simple reforms to increase competition and transparency in the dental insurance market.

To do so, state legislatures and Congress should first look to encourage patients who choose membership programs as dental plans, rather than traditional insurance. Using health savings accounts to buy these memberships, as well as pay for care, would be a huge improvement that would empower patients to contract their own care.

This would be similar to the movement of direct primary care doctors, who offer direct monthly subscriptions to patients and don’t accept insurance. Removing the insurance middleman means less bureaucracy, less red tape and more time with patients. As a plus, prices are transparent and fair. That alone would provide better competition and prices for patients in need.

This would lead to a larger decoupling of health and dental insurance from employers, allowing patients and consumers to choose the plan that works best for them and their families.

On the note of transparency, state legislatures should hold the dental insurance industry accountable with simple reforms that empower patients when choosing their dentists.

Assignment of benefits laws, already passed in states like Colorado and Illinois, allow patients to choose whether they want insurance companies to directly pay dental clinics, freeing patients from having to pay upfront and negotiate with insurance companies for reimbursement.

Similarly, network leasing regulations, allowing dental clinics to revise and opt-in to insurance networks rather than being automatically forced into them, would keep prices low and transparent, not to mention predictable before you even step into the dentist’s chair.

As legislatures look to reform health care, we should also keep in mind the growing dental bills facing Americans every day, and hope lawmakers understand the need for more competition and transparency to better improve dental care in our country.

Encouraging competition to traditional dental insurance, while promoting simple regulations to promote financial transparency, will serve to empower consumers and lower the costs of care.

That would be bold and revolutionary for patients and would help encourage innovation in a sector where it has not always been the most welcome.

Reprinted with permission from the Boston Herald. This op-ed was originally posted on July 14, 2021 at bit.ly/3CzGRfI.


The FDA thanks the Consumer Choice Center for bringing attention to these important issues. The dental insurance industry needs important reforms to protect transparency and competition for patients. We’re glad to see this additional momentum behind the work of the National Council of Insurance Legislators to reform dental insurance and protect patients.

Total Health Dentistry: What’s it All About?

By Dr. Susan Maples

What a strange and turbulent time to be in dental practice and leadership. All eyes are on us as to how we navigate for ourselves and our at-risk patients through this systemic disease threat. By now you know that dentists and hygienists are at the very top of the list of occupationally hazardous professions for COVID-19. This leaves many of us feeling anxious and wanting to help.

This is a unique time — when every person asks themselves if they would be at risk of death or disability with an inadvertent COVID-19 exposure. We know that that the most at-risk segment of our population is those who are afflicted with airway disorders, obesity, insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes) and metabolic syndrome. If you live a typical American lifestyle, these risks more than likely include YOU. But what does any of this have to do with the mouth? Everything!

“The mouth illuminates all the signs, and once you ‘see’ them, it makes it impossible to ‘unsee’ them.”

It wasn’t too long ago that dentists thought the mouth was its own private domain, that not much of what went on in there was linked to the rest of the body — and vice versa. Today, we understand that the most prevalent life-altering and life-threatening conditions we encounter have early telltale signs in the mouth. If you haven’t yet explored these, hang on to your seat — the evidence is staggering.

Only a short time ago, dentists and hygienists didn’t know (for examples) that:

  • Most sleep and airway disorders can be prevented by addressing structural/development concerns in newborns, babies and toddlers.
  • Tooth decay is a preventable bacterial infection passed to babies from their caregivers’ saliva.
  • Periodontal disease is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, dementia and erectile dysfunction.
  • Diabetes has a bidirectional relationship with periodontal disease, each making the other worse.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection from oral sex would replace smoking as the single biggest risk factor for oral pharyngeal cancer.

And this list goes on and on!

Our patients’ weakened host-immune response is mostly a result of the most common ailments in our culture: oxygen/sleep deprivation; a defective, sugared-up food supply; and, a sedentary lifestyle. When a patient visits you for his or her three- or six-month preventive appointment, they bring you all the evidence. The mouth illuminates all the signs, and once you “see” them, it makes it impossible to “unsee” them.

It’s time to embrace a personalized model for dental care, focused on far more than your teeth, gums, joints and muscles. By learning to identify the countless links and causes between systemic health and oral health, your entire dental team will soon play critical roles in helping each one of your patients (from age 1-100) live a healthier, happier and sexier life!

In today’s health care environment, which is focused on using a host of medications to put out small fires, helping your patients identify the root cause of their diseases becomes a rare GIFT. From there, helping individualize a wellness track does several things for your practice:

  • With your total health reputation, you will attract patients who value their health from a wide sweep around your practice location.
  • By earning trust, you’ll also earn the right to perform some significant restorative dentistry.
  • By collaborating with other health professionals, you’ll build a remarkable network of co-referral relationships and enhance the quality of your patient base.
  • By focusing on integrative health, you’ll add value to the hygienists’ role and enhanced hygiene profitability through adjunctive testing.
  • Through developing this sought-after niche, you’ll get the golden keys to insurance independence, if that is something you seek.

If you thought enhancing a smile was exciting, try giving someone a new lease on a vital life, while you restore their mouth to optimal health as well. It won’t take long before it becomes your new passion. Total health dentistry is more than a compelling morale builder — it’s a way of life.


Dr. Maples is the founder of Total Health Academy and developer of Hands-on Learning Lab and can be reached at susan@drsusanmaples.com. She is a speaker at the 2021 Florida Dental Convention and will be presenting three courses. On Friday, June 25, “Seeing in the Mouth with Super Powered Eyes: Total Health Dentistry” is at 2 p.m. On Saturday, June 26, “Slaying Dragons: Acid Reflux and Diabetes Detection” is at 9 a.m. and “Creating Powerful Co-referral Relationships with Medical Professionals: Becoming a Practice of Distinction” is at 2 p.m. Register at floridadentalconvention.com.

Reprinted from Today’s FDA, May/June 2021. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view the Today’s FDA archives.