Increasing access to quality dental hygiene care. An educational model

J Dent Hyg. 1989 Jun;63(5):238-41.


Restrictions on the manner in which dental hygienists practice are determined by individual state laws, each state's dental practice act, and how those are interpreted by the state board of dental examiners. Prior to 1986, state laws or regulations did not permit dental hygienists to practice independently of a dentist's supervision in public and private settings. These restrictions on the way hygienists practiced have been a barrier to expanding access to preventive dental hygiene care. Recently, the number of states that have eased the restrictions related to dental hygiene practice has increased. More hygienists have actively pursued legislation that would permit minimal supervision, and one state, Colorado, secured unsupervised practice. In addition to these legislative changes, the ADHA has made a commitment to expand the scope of dental hygiene practice. Given this focus, it is critical that dental hygiene practitioners receive the appropriate education to support their providing care directly to the public-functioning independently as licensed professionals. The purpose of this paper is to propose an educational model which will describe the advanced clinical and practical management skills necessary to practice unsupervised. Implications for how this model will increase access to care will also be addressed.

MeSH terms

  • Dental Care
  • Dental Hygienists / education*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care