2018 Tennessee Code
Title 63 - Professions of the Healing Arts
Chapter 5 - Dentists
§ 63-5-108. Practice of dentistry and dental hygiene defined.

Universal Citation: TN Code § 63-5-108 (2018)
  • (a) Dentistry is defined as the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment, by nonsurgical, surgical or related procedures, of diseases, disorders and/or conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and/or the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body, provided by a dentist within the scope of such dentist's education, training, and experience, in accordance with the ethics of the profession and applicable law.

  • (b) Any person is deemed to be practicing dentistry who, either gratuitously or for a salary, fee, money or other remuneration, paid or to be paid, directly to the operator or to any person or agency:

    • (1) Diagnoses, prescribes for or treats any disease, pain, deformity, deficiency, injury, disorder and condition of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body. Such diagnosis and treatment may include the use of a complete or limited physical evaluation of patients by a board eligible or board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a resident in an approved oral and maxillofacial surgery program practicing in a hospital setting;

    • (2) Extracts human teeth;

    • (3) Repairs or fills cavities in human teeth;

    • (4) Corrects malformations of human teeth or of the jaws;

    • (5) Performs any oral and maxillofacial surgery;

    • (6) Subject to subsection (d), takes an impression of the human tooth, teeth or jaws, leading to either:

      • (A) The fabrication of a model upon which will be constructed a replacement of natural teeth by artificial substitutes; or

      • (B) The fabrication of a cosmetic metal apparatus to be worn in the human mouth, whether or not the apparatus features silver, gold or platinum caps, jeweled inlays or any other cosmetic features;

    • (7) Furnishes, supplies, constructs, alters, reproduces or repairs any prosthetic denture, bridge, crown, appliance or any other structure to be used or worn in the human mouth as a substitute for natural teeth, except on the written work order of a licensed and registered dentist;

    • (8) Places or adjusts such appliance or structure in the human mouth;

    • (9) Delivers the same to any person other than the licensed and registered dentist upon whose written work order the work was performed;

    • (10) Offers to the public by any method to furnish, supply, construct, reproduce, reline, repair or otherwise process any prosthetic denture, bridge, appliance or other structure to be worn in the human mouth;

    • (11) Gives interpretations of dental radiographs;

    • (12) Administers an anesthetic, except for a topical anesthetic in connection with a dental operation; provided, however, that a duly licensed dentist may delegate the administration of local anesthetic to dental hygienists who possess a permit to do so issued by the board. The board shall establish the qualifications, criteria and curricula required for issuance of permits to administer local anesthetic, by infiltration or by block, to duly licensed dental hygienists;

    • (13) Uses the words, "Dentist," "Dental Surgeon," "Oral Surgeon," "Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon," or letters "D.D.S.," "D.M.D.," or any other words, letters, title, or descriptive matter that in any way represents the person as being able to diagnose, treat, prescribe or operate for any disease, pain, deformity, deficiency, injury, disorder, and condition of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body;

    • (14) States, or permits to be stated by any means or method whatsoever, that the person can or will attempt to perform dental operations or services or to render diagnosis in connection therewith;

    • (15) Is the operator of a place where dental operations or dental services are performed; or

    • (16) Authorizes the practice of "teledentistry" which, as used in this section, means the delivery of dental health care and patient consultation through the use of telehealth systems and technologies, including live, two-way interactions between a patient and a dentist licensed in this state using audiovisual telecommunications technology, or the secure transmission of electronic health records and medical data to a dentist licensed in this state to facilitate evaluation and treatment of the patient outside of a real-time or in-person interaction. Dentists who are licensed in this state and who deliver services using teledentistry shall establish protocols for the practice that should include proper methods of keeping the patient fully informed; proper safeguards ensuring that all state and federal laws and regulations relative to the privacy of health information are followed; proper documentation of all services or treatment rendered via teledentistry; proper procedures to ensure the referral of those patients requiring treatment beyond what can be provided via teledentistry to a dentist licensed in this state; and any such requirements as prescribed by the board of dentistry. Any and all services provided via teledentistry shall be consistent with the in-person provision of those services. Any and all services provided via teledentistry shall comply with this chapter and shall be provided in accordance with the rules of the board of dentistry.

  • (c)

    • (1) A dental hygienist is an individual who has graduated from a dental hygiene program accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and is licensed under this chapter to practice dental hygiene.

    • (2) The practice of dental hygiene means the performance of preventive, educational, and therapeutic services including the removal of all hard and soft deposits and the stain from the human teeth to the depth of the gingival sulcus, polishing natural and restored surfaces of teeth, performing clinical examination of teeth and surrounding tissues for diagnosis by the dentist, and performing other procedures that may be delegated by the dentist, under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

    • (3) No person shall practice dental hygiene in a manner that is separate or independent from a supervising dentist, or establish or maintain an office or a practice that is primarily devoted to the provision of dental hygiene services.

    • (4) A dental hygienist shall perform, under direct supervision only, root planing, subgingival curettage, administering nitrous oxide, and local anesthesia.

    • (5) Under general supervision a dental hygienist may provide to patients, for not more than fifteen (15) consecutive business days, all other dental hygiene services not otherwise limited to direct supervision by this chapter or rules adopted by the board, if all of the following requirements are met:

      • (A) The dental hygienist has at least one (1) year, full-time, or an equivalent amount of experience practicing dental hygiene;

      • (B) The dental hygienist complies with written protocols for emergencies that the supervising dentist establishes;

      • (C) The supervising dentist examined the patient not more than eleven (11) months prior to the date the dental hygienist provides the dental hygiene services;

      • (D) The dental hygienist provides dental hygiene services to the patient in accordance with a written treatment plan developed by the supervising dentist for the patient; and

      • (E) The patient is notified in advance of the appointment that the supervising dentist will be absent from the location and that the dental hygienist cannot diagnose the patient's dental health care status.

  • (d) Any duly licensed and registered dentist may assign to duly licensed and registered dental hygienists, registered dental assistants and/or practical dental assistants, as defined by the board in rules and regulations, any tasks or procedures to be performed in the dentist's office for which a licensed and registered dentist exercises direct supervision and full responsibility, except those procedures requiring the professional judgment or skill of a dentist; provided, that duties involving the removal of hard and soft deposits by scaling or curretage from the surfaces of human teeth are assigned only to duly licensed and registered dental hygienists. The board has the authority to permit registered dental assistants to apply sealants to and to polish human teeth, and the board has the discretion to establish criteria and curricula as necessary to ensure that such registered dental assistants are qualified to apply sealants and perform polishing. For eligibility to perform polishing, passage of a clinical and didactic examination is required. The board is authorized to permit licensed and registered dental hygienists and registered dental assistants to insert, pack, carve and finish amalgam and intracoronal nonmetallic restorations and take final impressions for fixed and removable prosthetic appliances, under the direct supervision and full responsibility of a licensed dentist, and the board shall establish such criteria and curricula as it determines in its discretion are necessary or appropriate to ensure that such hygienists and assistants are qualified to perform such procedures. Tasks and procedures assignable to licensed and registered dental hygienists shall include those enumerated in the board's regulations as of January 1, 1990, and such other additional tasks and procedures as the board may deem appropriate in the future. Procedures requiring professional judgment or skill not assignable to such dental hygienists and dental assistants include the following:

    • (1) Diagnosis and treatment planning; oral surgery, the cutting of hard and/or soft tissues, excluding any cutting of such tissues involved in subgingival scaling, root planing and gingival curettage, and any intra-oral procedures that would affect the function and/or efficiency of an appliance that, when worn by the patient, would come in direct contact with hard or soft tissue and that could result in tissue irritation or injury;

    • (2) The placing of permanent fillings or restorations in or on teeth except as provided in this subsection (d); and

    • (3) Administration of a general or local anesthetic, except for a topical anesthetic in connection with a dental operation; provided, however, that dental hygienists who possess a permit issued pursuant to subdivision (b)(12) may administer a local anesthetic but only under the direct supervision of a licensed and registered dentist who is physically present at the same office location and time and in accordance with rules and regulations of the board.

  • (e) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a dental hygienist may administer nitrous oxide analgesia if directed by a dentist to do so, in accordance with rules and regulations of the board of dentistry, under the direct supervision of a licensed and registered dentist. Patients who have been administered nitrous oxide shall be monitored appropriately.

  • (f) A licensed dentist may not allow, under general supervision, more than three (3) dental hygienists to work at any one (1) time.

  • (g) Any duly licensed and registered dentist who uses general anesthesia, deep sedation or conscious sedation in that dentist's practice, at a level to be determined by the board, must secure a permit from the board by meeting the standards as set in rules and regulations and by paying fees set by the board. Such permit is subject to renewal at intervals upon payment of a fee as set by the board in rules and regulations. Any dental facility in which general anesthesia, deep sedation or conscious sedation is administered by such dentist is subject to standards as may be specified in rules and regulations of the board, including, but not limited to, a facility permit.

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