WDHA Advances Nitrous Oxide Legislation

Proposal will allow licensed dental hygienists to be certified in the use of nitrous oxide

Under a proposal initiated and supported by the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association (WDHA), licensed dental hygienists would be allowed to administer nitrous oxide sedation directly to patients after they have received additional training and education and are certified by the State of Wisconsin.

Current Wisconsin law does not allow dental hygienists to administer nitrous oxide to patients. Although dental hygienists are trained to monitor nitrous oxide sedation use during dental procedures, they must report fluctuations in the patient’s mood and/or behavior for the dentist to make adjustments.

This inability under the law for the dental hygienist to adjust and manage the use of nitrous oxide directly can be a very frustrating experience for patients, as it causes disruptions in procedures and increases inefficiencies within the dental office.

With thirty states in the country now allowing dental hygienists to administer nitrous oxide sedation, WDHA leadership decided now was the time to move forward with this initiative. “Wisconsin has become an island in the Midwest with our neighboring states of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan all allowing dental hygienists to administer nitrous oxide,” said Lisa Bell RDH MPH,, President of the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association. “These states have already recognized the value in authorizing trained dental hygienists to administer nitrous oxide sedation and changed their laws accordingly.” Inconsistencies in state laws have created barriers for the profession and have placed limitations on the ability of dental hygienists to provide comprehensive care to their patients.

Under the WDHA proposal, a licensed dental hygienist will be able to obtain additional education and training to become certified in the administration of nitrous oxide sedation. The specific requirements for additional education and training will be created through Administrative Rules and developed by the Wisconsin Dental Examining Board within the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Once the bill authorizing certification is passed and signed into law, the Administrative Rule process will begin.

What’s the next step? The WDHA leadership has been working diligently to be transparent and proactive in engaging the Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA). At this time we believe that the WDA is not opposed to this initiative and would be in support of dental hygienists' administering nitrous oxide sedation. The WDHA has been working with State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (River Falls) to draft and introduce this legislation. Sen. Harsdorf has agreed to be the lead author of this bill and will help the WDHA navigate the proposal through the entire legislative process. As this proposal moves closer to introduction, WDHA will be turning to you, the membership, to help educate lawmakers and ask for their support of this important legislation. Please keep an eye out for additional WDHA information on how you can help in this initiative.

If you have any questions or are in need of additional information, please contact Lisa Bell RDH MPH, President Wisconsin Dental Hygienists Association lisabellrdh95@aol.com

Thank you.