Committee Looks at Changes to Denturist Bill: by Karla Pomeroy

For the sixth straight year, Rep. Lorraine Quarberg (R-HD28, Thermopolis) and Sen. Gerry Geis (R-SD20, Worland) have been working to pass a bill that would allow licensed denturists to practice in Wyoming on their own.
This session, the bill is originating in the Senate and SF49 is before the Health and Labor Committee. Geis and Basin denturist Gary Vollan both testified in favor of the bill before the committee.
Vollan said he thought the chances of the bill advancing past committee “look pretty good.” He added that he appreciates the work of the local legislators on the bill.
Geis said the committee plans on making some amendments to the bill before taking action. He said the timeline for moving the bill forward is getting tight. Friday is the last day for bills to be reported out of committee in the “house of origin.” And Monday is the final day for first reading for bills that originate in the Senate or the House.
“I’d like to see it go (approved),” Geis said.
As Wyoming law currently stands, licensed denturists cannot open a practice in the state. Vollan currently works as chairside assistant and dental laboratory technician with Nelson and Page Dental PC in Worland.
SF49 (Wyoming Denture Practice Act) as its currently written, would set up a State Board of Denturists, provide for licensing and allow denturists to practice in the state.
Geis said his understanding of some of the changes the Health and Labor Committee may look at is having denturists work under the auspice of a licensed dentist, similar to how a nurse practitioner works under the oversight of a physician.
Vollan said some of the arguments against allowing denturists to practice don’t hold up. He said there is concern that denturists would diagnose and begin practicing dentistry.
“We don’t diagnose. If we notice unhealthy tissue we refer the patient to the appropriate dentist or oral physician,” Vollan said.
Under the bill, a denturist is defined as a person licensed under this article to engage in the practice of denturism; ’Practice of denturism’ means: (A) Making, placing, constructing, altering, reproducing or repairing a denture; and (B) Taking impressions and furnishing or supplying a denture directly to a person or advising the use of a denture and maintaining a facility for the same.”
Vollan said opponents of the bill state that the school denturists go to is not accredited. He said Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Wash., is accredited but noted that the denturist program at the college has been stymied by dental associations from getting accredited.
Vollan and Geis said it is uncertain at this time to know exactly what changes will be made Wednesday. “The changes will be interesting, but it’s going to be a start,” Vollan said.
“This is about the people of Wyoming and providing accessible and affordable denture care for them,” Vollan said. He said denturists can offer denture care at about half the cost of dentists. He said surrounding states including Montana and Idaho have licensed denturists and it gives people a choice in caring for their dentures.
“We do all the impressions, bite registrations and lab work. There’s no middle man,” he said.
Along with working on legislators to approve a bill, Vollan in 2007 attempted to get an initiative on the ballot to let the people decide. He had obtained 17,000 signatures from 17 counties in Wyoming before family obligations made him cutback on his initiative work and they fell short of the required signatures.
“It showed it’s something the Wyoming people want,” Vollan said.
He said there are three other denturists in Wyoming, with inquiries annually from others that would like to come and practice in Wyoming.

Karla Pomeroy, Editor
Basin Republican Rustler
P.O. Box 640
Basin, WY 82410
FAX 568-2459


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