Sen. Nelson’s Interstate Dental Compact bill receives first hearing

Senator Carla Nelson
2 min readMar 11, 2024

A bill authored by State Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) that would allow Minnesota to join an interstate compact for dentists and dental hygienists received its first hearing Wednesday in the state Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee. The Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact aims to make it easier for dentists and dental hygienists to work in Minnesota by allowing them to practice in multiple states with a single, portable license.

“Entering Minnesota into the Dental Compact will improve Minnesota’s dental workforce challenges,” Senator Nelson said. “For patients, it means better access to dental care — especially in areas where there is a shortage of providers. And dentists and dental hygienists will have a much easier time practicing in the states where they are most needed. More people can get expert dental treatment without having to travel long distances. It is a win-win.”

The compact establishes a pathway for licensed dentists and dental hygienists to practice in participating states without having to obtain individual licenses for each state. To be eligible, they must have an active, unencumbered license in a compact state, graduate from an accredited program, pass national board exams, complete a clinical assessment, and undergo a criminal background check.

Minnesota would become the fifth state to adopt the compact after Tennessee, Iowa, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The Association of Dental Support Organizations voiced strong support for the bill in a letter, stating “Passage of the Compact would allow Minnesota to attract more oral health care professionals to assist in the effort to reverse these concerning dental hurdles Minnesota is facing and help turn the state into a national model for oral health care.”

The Minnesota Dental Association also expressed support in a letter, writing “Recent data obtained within our membership indicate that over two-thirds of dentists in Minnesota have found it to be ‘extremely challenging’ or ‘very challenging’ to hire dental hygienists. Patient wait times have increased as a direct consequence of staffing shortages.

The Minnesota Dental Hygienists Association wrote that the compact “would preserve the Minnesota Board of Dentistry’s authority over the practice of dentistry and dental hygiene in the state” while helping “Minnesota attract talent from other states” and supporting teledentistry models.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill unanimously and referred it to the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.