How much education and supervision does it take to fill a cavity? That’s the question at the center of a dental debate on Beacon Hill over proposals to create a new mid-level position between dentists and dental hygienists.

The goal is to close the coverage gap for poor and underserved communities. In 2014, only 53 percent of low-income children and 56 percent of low-income adults saw a dentist, according to the Mass. Health Policy Commission. As a result, emergency room visits for preventable oral health conditions are six times higher for low-income children, and seven times higher for low-income adults.

Part of the problem is cost. But part of it is access, with one-tenth of the state’s population living in an area that is federally designated as having a dental health professional shortage.

That’s why some state lawmakers are now pushing for a new dental classification called a dental “therapist” or “practitioner,” meaning someone with more training than a hygienist, but less than a dentist. But some lawmakers and industry professionals are split on the details.

Jim Braude is joined by executive director of the Massachusetts Senior Access Council, Carolyn Villers and Dr. David Lustbader, president of the Massachusetts Dental Society and a clinical instructor at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine.