Florida bill would make it easier for dentists to be certified

(The Center Square) — Florida’s dental students could soon have help gaining their qualifications a little easier after a bill was passed by the Legislature and is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.

Senate Bill 938 is sponsored by state Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, and would make changes to the dental industry in the Sunshine State. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers, most recently in the House on Tuesday.

Yarborough said during the bill’s passage through committee that the bill is agreed-upon language between the Florida Dental Association and the Florida Board of Dentistry to clean up the Dental Practice Act after various changes over recent years related to the dental license exam and the dental licensure process.

The bill updates the Dental Practice Act to reflect that Florida accepts the American Board of Dental Examiners exam, which is offered and accepted in 48 states. The bill creates uniformity and the dental exam process, regardless of whether the dental student takes their licensure exam in-state or out-of-state.

Dental students going through the curriculum in a graded format of the exam would be allowed to take different sections of the exam throughout their years at dental school, not just in their final year.

Furthermore, the bill adds language to take into consideration personal emergencies or special hardships when out-of-state applicants apply for dental licensure, which is currently not an option for the Board of Dentistry to consider. The bill would also delete outdated language throughout Florida laws.

The bill would require anyone who is applying for a dental license to meet certain criteria, including being older than age 18, a graduate of a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation or another entity recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and successfully passed the dental exam.

Other requirements to get a dental license in Florida include applicants providing sufficient evidence that they have never been convicted of or pled “nolo contendere” to a felony or misdemeanor related to the practice of a health care profession in any jurisdiction.

The board would also be able to excuse the required 1,200-hour requirement in the event of a hardship. If the bill receives DeSantis’ signature, it will come into effect on July 1.