Background: Appropriately trained dental hygienists can participate in oral cancer (OC) control.
Method: We assessed knowledge of risk factors, diagnostic procedures, and opinions regarding OC education among 651 dental hygienists practicing in North Carolina using a mail survey. We constructed regression models of factors influencing high knowledge levels.
Results: Most correctly identified tobacco and alcohol use as OC risk factors, and 52% felt their knowledge of OC was current; however, we identified gaps. Diagnostic knowledge was highest for those who were recent graduates or received continuing education in the last 5 years; 96% were interested in future continuing education.
Conclusion: Increased OC education content in dental hygiene curricula and training programs for practicing hygienists is needed to enhance early detection of OC.