Michigan would authorize and license midlevel "dental therapists" to do work now performed by dentists under a bill advancing in the Legislature.
The legislation won Senate approval 21-15 Wednesday. The House will consider it next.
Under the bill, dental therapists could practice if they reach an agreement with a supervising dentist.
They could perform more common procedures than dental hygienists, such as filling cavities.
Supporters say the legislation would help ensure treatment for more patients in underserved populations, including in rural areas.
Opponents, such as the Michigan Dental Association, say the reason some residents are not getting adequate dental care have nothing to do with a shortage. They blame low Medicaid reimbursement rates and other factors.