MINNEAPOLIS, MN – In an effort to strengthen dental education and improve access to dental care, the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA), in collaboration with the Minnesota Educators of Dental Assisting and the Minnesota Dental Hygiene Educators Association, have led the introduction of legislation seeking to appropriate state funds to dental academic institutions. This legislation aims to allocate substantial funding to enhance dental assisting and hygiene education programs across the state, ultimately benefiting both students and patients. The legislation seeks to provide grants and/or forgivable loans for dental assisting and hygiene schools designed to address various issues inhibiting their ability to increase program capacity.

Senate File 4155, introduced by Senator Rob Kupec, and House File 4375, introduced by Representative Amanda Hemmingsen-Jaeger, proposes a $20 million grant appropriation specifically designated for dental assisting and hygiene education programs. These grants will empower academic institutions to enhance their programs, train more dental professionals, and address workforce shortages. Eligible institutions include community colleges, technical schools, and universities offering dental hygiene and dental assisting programs.

“SF4155 is a critical investment in our state’s allied dental education infrastructure. By supporting academic institutions, we ensure that the dental profession’s critical workforce needs are addressed,” said MDA President Dr. Rose Perpich. “This is a win-win for students, patients, and the dental profession,” added Dr. Perpich.

Minnesota faces a significant workforce shortage of dental assistants and dental hygienists. Recent data indicate that most dental practices are actively hiring for these positions, with two-thirds of dentists indicating recruitment is “extremely challenging” or “very challenging.”¹ Without more allied dental personnel in the workforce, access to care is significantly impacted.

Minnesota’s dental assisting and hygiene schools are at maximum capacity, with demand outweighing available openings. Each program faces financial barriers that limit its ability to increase student population. The number of graduates entering the dental workforce will continue to be limited if funding is not available to address program limitations.

Potential uses of grants/loans include, but are not limited to, infrastructure projects for both classroom or clinic space, student scholarships, hiring additional faculty/staff, or other program-specific needs.

¹ Minnesota Dental Association’s internal member survey and the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute Data: Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry, August 2023



The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. You can learn more at www.mndental.org.