Those who work and operate the dental clinic at Good News Clinics are waiting for good news.
Senate Bill 12, which would allow dental hygienists to perform cleanings and more without a doctor present, was recently adopted in the Senate and passed to the House for approval.
Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said he voted for the legislation. Hawkins is also a dentist and volunteers in his spare time at the Green Warren Dental Clinic of Good News Clinics.
Charlotte Crow, developmental director for the clinics, said they normally see 500 patients a month.
“(The bill) really relates to places like us, that provide services for people in need,” Crow said.
Most of these people are from low-income families and might not be able to afford to see a dentist.
Hawkins said the dental clinic is open approximately 4 to 5 days a week, about 50 weeks a year.
“The clinic director Dr. Bud Nichols is there most days and the majority of dentists in our community volunteer,” Hawkins said.
Only two hygienists from the area are regular volunteers at the clinic. Lanier Tech’s dental hygienist program provides 12 students twice a year for the facility’s needs, while there are 43 volunteer dentists.
“Hopefully, this legislation will raise the awareness of the hygienists in our area and encourage them to volunteer,” Hawkins said.
Since the clinic has so few hygienists, they aren’t able to offer as many cleanings as they have the demand for.
“We have a long waiting list,” Crow said.
Part of the issue is also matching up the schedules of dentists and the hygienists.
Crow said the bill is a hotly contested issue, since dental hygienists have always been under the supervision of dentists.
“That’s just how it always has been done,” Crow said.
The clinic also provides acute dental care, including extractions and fillings. A prevention program is conducted for all new patients explaining proper brushing and flossing techniques, and nutrition for oral health, according to the clinic’s website, www.goodnewsclinics.org.