Report examines mid-level provider states, considers nationwide concept
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA: The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) continues to advocate for the development and implementation of new oral health-care workforce models that will benefit the public and improve its oral and overall health. Dental hygienists, with their formal education and the licensure requirements necessary in each state to provide care, are well prepared to assist in preventing oral health diseases, according to ADHA.
And with more than 185,000 dental hygienists licensed in the United States, the profession is ready and available to meet this growing need, ADHA says.
“Dental hygienists are educated, licensed and prepared to be a part of the solution,” said ADHA President Kelli Swanson Jaecks, RDH. “We know that the public will benefit from a provider who can provide both preventive and specified restorative services.”
On June 30, The Pew Charitable Trusts released a report that included examples of mid-level dental providers in Minnesota and Alaska performing routine preventive and restorative care to underserved populations and the benefits those services could have nationwide to those requiring oral health care.
The state of Maine also recently passed legislation allowing a dental hygienist or an independent practice dental hygienist to become a dental hygiene therapist. Maine and Minnesota, as well as tribal lands in Alaska, have moved forward to address their access-to-care challenges and now recognize these oral health workforce models.
Currently, 37 states allow the public to directly access the oral health-care services of a dental hygienist in at least one practice setting. In California, a dental hygienist with an advanced license, in certain pilot situations, can work under remote supervision to perform a variety of services in schools and nursing homes, including X-rays, sealants and interim therapeutic restorations.
The state of Oregon also allows hygienists to perform certain services under remote supervision. Several states, including Washington, New Mexico, Kansas and Vermont, are currently deliberating dental hygiene-based mid-level workforce proposals that would allow registered dental hygienists with additional education and experience the opportunity to help meet the public’s oral health needs. New Hampshire and North Dakota are among states that are studying alternative workforce models.
“The profession of dental hygiene is on the cusp of transformation and is committed to improving access to oral health care through the integration of dental hygienists into the health-care delivery system as essential primary care providers,” Swanson Jaecks said. “The ADHA supports oral health-care workforce models that culminate in graduation from an accredited institution, professional licensure and direct access to patient care.”
The ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional interests of more than 185,000 dental hygienists across the country.
Dental hygienists provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services that support total health through the promotion of optimal oral health.