Massachusetts State Dental Practice Act
Every state has its own laws regarding dentists and the practice of dentistry. Being a registered and licensed dentist in one state does not automatically allow you to practice dentistry in another. Just like most state dental laws, Massachusetts’ Dental Practice Act covers the creation of a Board of Registration, rules and procedures for licenses, specific regulations on the practice, and associated professions such as dental hygienists and assistants. These rules are all part of Massachusetts General Law.
Board of Registration in Dentistry
The state government agency that controls the practice of dentistry in Massachusetts is the Board of Registration in Dentistry, or BORID. Its creation and definition of functions and responsibilities are defined in Chapter 13, Sections 19 through 21, in the state’s General Laws. BORID registers, issues, renews and revokes licenses and permits. It is also the entity that establishes the specific regulations on dental practice. The board members are appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts.
Regulations on licensing are covered in the General Laws, Chapter 112, Registration of Certain Professions and Occupations, Sections 43 through 53. To be a licensed dentist in Massachusetts, you have to a DDS or DMD degree from an accredited college, pass a state or regional board exam such as the Northeast Regional Board Examination, and pass the state’s Ethics and Jurisprudence Exam. The last main requirement tests the dentist’s knowledge of the Massachusetts Dental Practice Act.
Three types of permits are required for dentists: one for prescribing controlled substances, one for administering anesthesia, and one for possessing radiographic, or x-ray machines. The first permit is issued by the state’s Department of Health and the local branch of the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency. The second comes from BORID; which are actually two permits — the individual permit that authorizes the dentist, and the facility permit that allows anesthesia to be administered within the clinic. The third permit is issued by the Massachusetts Bureau of Radiation Control.
Dental Hygienists and Assistants
Massachusetts’ Dental Practice Act sets the rules for the associated professions of dental hygienist and dental assistant. The definition, scope and licensing of these occupations are also covered in Chapter 112 of the General Laws. A dental hygienist is someone trained to do prophylactic and preventive treatment under a dentist’s supervision, but is not qualified to give diagnoses, prescribe drugs or perform surgery. Both hygienists and assistants need to be registered with BORID.
Other Rules and Regulations
As mentioned, the specific rules and regulations regarding dental practice in Massachusetts are set by BORID. These cover the registration process and requirements for dentists licensed in other states or in other countries. Procedures for complaints and other legal actions against licensed dentists are chiefly covered in Chapter 112, Sections 52 and 61 through 65 of the General Laws. Other rules established pertain to the administration and business side of dentistry, such as policies regarding dental health records and appropriate manners for advertising dental services.