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The Associated Press April 19, 2012, 1:13PM ET

Maine law expands dental hygienists' scope

Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill that could expand dental care in underserved parts of Maine.

The new law allows independent-practice dental hygienists to take X-rays and own radiograph equipment. Under the law, the X-rays must be read by a dentist within 21 days.

Republican Rep. Heather Sirocki of Scarborough, who co-sponsored LePage's bill, says Maine has a shortage of dental care. Sirocki, a registered dental hygienist, says the primary reason for visits to emergency departments is dental pain, costing millions of dollars every year.

Sirocki says the pilot project authorized by the new law will expand more affordable dental care to underserved parts of Maine, often in rural areas. Maine has about 40 independent practice dental hygienists and another 10 or so who have certifications pending

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