- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine’s Democratic-led Senate has advanced a bill supporters say will expand access to affordable dental care in the state.

In a 19-16 vote, the Senate gave initial approval to the bill establishing a new license for dental hygiene therapists, which would be able to do procedures like filling cavities and pulling teeth. Dental hygienists could become dental hygiene therapists after schooling, clinical hours and an exam.

The bill faces final votes in the House and Senate.

Supporters say many rural Maine towns have a shortage of dentists, which means residents often go without proper dental care.

But critics say the problem is the inability of people to show up at appointments, not a lack of access.

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