Bill to change mobile dentistry services moves through AZ Senate

Bill to change mobile dentistry services moves through AZ Senate

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The for profit dental services have come under fire recently for allegedly performing unnecessary work on children and for doing the work at schools without parental permission.

Some state legislators and dentists are trying to change all that and it starts with a new proposed law now working its way through the state Senate.

"I find it to be a disturbing problem.  It is a problem on a widespread basis," said Dr. Lee Weinstein -- a so-called brick and mortar dentist.

Like most, he has an office.  In his case, a pediatric practice in Phoenix and he always gets parental permission before performing any dental work on his young patients.

"We have to take care of and inform before we perform.  We do that on a daily basis," said Weinstein.

But as we've reported in the past, dentists who visit schools across the state allegedly don't always get specific permission from parents.

A locally-based mobile dentist service called ReachOut Healthcare America asks parents to sign a permission form before their children are seen by a dentist at school.

The form, signed by parents before a child has ever been examined, lists a variety of procedures form cleanings to tooth extractions that dentists can perform with a single signature from a parent.

But Dr. Weinstein, who is a member of the state dental society, helped write a new law to change that.

"Anything that is irreversible, any procedure that is irreversible should have a secondary permission," he said.

State Rep. Doris Goodale of Kingman says, "We think there needed to be a little more parental notification."

Goodale agrees and has sponsored a bill tat would require the double parental notification.  One for routine cleanings and sealings and a second for any permanent work like fillings or extractions.  The mobile dentist industry would like that part of the bill revised.

"When they go into schools, they do not have a parent present when the child receives a service, so sometimes it becomes very difficult to get that second parental permission," she said.

Goodale says the bill has passed the House, but faces a challenge from mobile dental lobbyists in the Senate.  Still, she wants to keep that second permission requirement in the bill.

"We continue to meet to try to resolve the parent permission and we are still in that process," she said.

And dentists like Weinstein believe what's good for them should apply to mobile dentists as well.

"Mobile units are just asking for blanket permission and I have a problem with that," he said.

ReachOut Healthcare America did not respond to our request for comment.

The goal of the new law is not to end mobile dentistry care in Arizona.  Mobile dentists do provide important services to children in rural areas that would otherwise never even see a dentist.

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