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Access to Dental Health Care: Dental Hygienist Scope of Practice

posted on Wed, Feb 17 2016 1:58 pm by The Network

Untreated oral health problems in children may result in attention deficits, trouble in school, and problems sleeping and eating. For adults, poor oral health may contribute to difficulty obtaining a job and forming relationships. Employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work each year due to dental disease and dental visits, and in 2009 over 830,000 emergency room visits were the result of preventable dental conditions. Poor oral health is also associated with a number of other diseases, including diabetes, stroke and respiratory disease.

Nebraska has the eighth least dense population of the 50 United States. In jurisdictions with very low population density, providing adequate dental care to geographically remote populations can be a significant challenge. One of the proposed solutions to that challenge has been to enlarge the oral health workforce by expanding the roles of other dental health professionals, including community dental health coordinators, community health workers, dental hygienists, and dental therapists.

A requestor recently contacted the Network for information on the scope of practice for dental hygienists in Nebraska. The Network provided the requestor with a fact sheet for Nebraska titled Pathways to Improved Access to Dental Health Services, which details the clinical dental health services as well as the public health related services dental hygienists provide.

Information for scope of practice for dental health professionals for all states can be found in the Network’s 50-state survey.

More information on the expansion of the oral health workforce can be found in the Network brief, Policy Options to Increase Access to Oral Health Care and Improve Oral Health by Expanding the Oral Health Workforce.

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