Dentists: Health Min. at fault if hygienists poorly drill cavities

The Dutch dentist association ANT is concerned about Health Minister Edith Schippers' plan to allow dental hygienists to carry out small operations, such as drilling cavities, by themselves. "We hold Minister Schippers personally responsible if patients are soon put on the street with severe toothache due to complications, for example", ANT president and dentist Jan Willem Vaartjes said to RTL Nieuws.

Minister Edith Schippers of Public Health plans to give dental hygienists the capability of performing small operations, such as drilling and filling cavities, giving anesthesia and taking X-rays on their own. The intent is to reduce healthcare costs.

The Ministry believes that this is not an irresponsible measure, pointing out that dental hygienists have been trained to perform these operations for ten years. "They are qualified to do this", the ministry responded to the broadcaster. The spokesperson added that dental hygienists are already allowed to perform small operations, as long as it is done under the supervision of a dentist. All this new plan does is take that condition away.

But the ANT is worried about what will happen if there is no dentist to intervene when complications arise. "The drilling hygienist can not take the nerve out of the tooth and is dependent on dentists to solve this problem."