Expanded Scopes of Practice for Dental Hygienists Associated With Improved Oral Health Outcomes For Adults

Authors: Margaret Langelier, MSHSA | Tracey Continelli, PhD | Jean Moore DrPH, MSN, FAAN | Bridget Baker, MA, ABD | Simona Surdu, MD, PhD

Topics: Oral Health, Scope of Practice (SOP)

Research Center: Oral Health Workforce Research Center

December 1, 2016

Dental hygienists are valued members of the oral health team, providing preventative and prophylactic services while also educating patients in oral health care. However, state policies concerning the scope of practice (SOP) for dental hygienists create limitations on the tasks that they are legally allowed to perform, which ultimately impacts access to needed oral health care services.  The Oral Health Workforce Research Center used a Dental Hygiene Professional Practice Index to score state-level scopes of practice in 2001 and 2014. Researchers also analyzed the association of each state’s composite score with tooth removal due to decay or disease among the adult population.

This article is a comparative analysis of oral health outcomes associated with the scopes of practice for dental hygienists in all states and the District of Columbia.

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